Deutschland und der Erste Weltkrieg – First World War

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Deutschland und der Erste Weltkrieg
(Germany and the First World War)

Small Arms of theGerman Empire
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

During World War I, the German Empire was one of the Central Powers that ultimately lost the war.

It began participation with the conflict after the declaration of war against Serbia by its ally, Austria-Hungary.
German forces fought the Allies on both the eastern and western fronts, although German territory itself remained relatively safe from widespread invasion for most of the war, except for a brief period in 1914 when East Prussia was invaded.
A tight blockade imposed by the British Navy caused severe food shortages in the cities, especially in the winter of 1916-1917, known as the ‘Kohlrübenwinter’ (turnip winter)

.

The Sarajevo Crisis

Arms of the Kingdom of Serbia
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


The causes of World War I, which began in central Europe in late July 1914, included intertwined factors, such as the conflicts and hostility of the four decades leading up to the war. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism played major roles in the conflict as well.

The immediate origins of the war, however, lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the Crisis of 1914, ‘casus belli‘ for which was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by Gavrilo Princip, an irredentist Serb.
The crisis came after a long and difficult series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, the British Empire, the Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decade before 1914 that had left tensions high.
In turn these diplomatic clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1867.
The more immediate cause for the war was tensions over territory in the Balkans.
Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region, and they pulled the rest of the Great Powers into the conflict through their various alliances and treaties.

Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand
Sarajevo

Wilhelm was a friend of Franz Ferdinand, Erzherzog von Österreich  and he was deeply shocked by his assassination on 28 June 1914.
Wilhelm offered to support Austria-Hungary in crushing the ‘Black Hand’, the secret organization that had plotted the killing, and even sanctioned the use of force by Austria against the perceived source of the movement – Serbia.

SMS Hohenzollern

He wanted to remain in Berlin until the crisis was resolved, but his courtiers persuaded him instead to go on his annual cruise of the North Sea on 6 July 1914.
Wilhelm made erratic attempts to stay on top of the crisis via telegram, and when the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum was delivered to Serbia, he hurried back to Berlin.
He reached Berlin on 28 July, read a copy of the Serbian reply, and wrote on it:
‘A brilliant solution—and in barely 48 hours! This is more than could have been expected.
A great moral victory for Vienna; but with it every pretext for war falls to the ground, and [the Ambassador] Giesl had better have stayed quietly at Belgrade.
On this document, I should never have given orders for mobilisation.’

Kaiser Franz Josef

Unknown to the Emperor, Austro-Hungarian ministers and generals had already convinced the 84-year-old Francis Joseph I of Austria to sign a declaration of war against Serbia.
As a direct consequence, Russia began a general mobilization to attack Austria in defense of Serbia.

On the night of 30 July, when handed a document stating that Russia would not cancel its mobilization, Wilhelm wrote a lengthy commentary containing these observations:
‘For I no longer have any doubt that England, Russia and France have agreed among themselves—knowing that our treaty obligations compel us to support Austria—to use the Austro-Serb conflict as a pretext for waging a war of annihilation against us… Our dilemma over keeping faith with the old and honourable Emperor has been exploited to create a situation which gives England the excuse she has been seeking to annihilate us with a spurious appearance of justice on the pretext that she is helping France and maintaining the well-known Balance of Power in Europe, i.e., playing off all European States for her own benefit against us.’
 Helmuth von Moltke

When it became clear that Germany would experience a war on two fronts and that the United Kingdom would enter the war if Germany attacked France through neutral Belgium Wilhelm attempted to redirect the main attack against Russia.

When Helmuth von Moltke (the younger) (who had chosen the old plan from 1905, made by the former German general von Schlieffen for the possibility of German war on two fronts) told him that this was impossible, Wilhelm said: “Your uncle would have given me a different answer!
Wilhelm is also reported to have said, “To think that George and Nicky should have played me false! If my grandmother had been alive, she would never have allowed it.
In the original Schlieffen plan, Germany would attack the (supposed) weaker enemy first, meaning France.
The plan supposed that it would take a long time before Russia was ready for war.
Defeating France had been easy for Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
At the 1914 border between France and Germany, an attack at this more southern part of France could be stopped by the French fortress along the border. However, Wilhelm II got von Moltke (the younger) to not also invade the Netherlands.


Overview


Geist von 1914 – Berlin

The German population responded to the outbreak of war in 1914 with a complex mix of emotions, in a similar way to the populations in other countries of Europe; often with enthusiasm known as the ‘Geist von 1914’ (Spirit of 1914).

The German government, dominated by the Junkers, thought of the war as a way to end Germany’s disputes with rivals France, Russia and Britain.


In Prussian history Junkers were members of the landed nobility in Prussia.
They owned great estates that were maintained and worked by Slavic peasants with few rights. They were a dominant factor in the Prussian and, after 1871, German military, political and diplomatic leadership. The most famous Junker was Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

Geist von 1914 – Ausflug nach Paris

The beginning of war was presented in authoritarian Germany as the chance for the nation to secure ‘unseren Platz unter der Sonne’ – (our place under the sun) as the Foreign Minister Bernhard von Bulow had put it, which was readily supported by prevalent nationalism among the public.

The Kaiser and the German establishment hoped the war would unite the public behind the monarchy, and lessen the threat posed by the dramatic growth of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which had been the most vocal critic of the Kaiser in the Reichstag before the war. 

Kaiser Wilhelm II

Wilhelm II  (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht von Preußen; English: 27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941) was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe. Crowned in 1888, his ‘Neuer Kurs’ (New Course) in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of July 1914 that led to World War I. His generals dictated policy during World War I with little regard for the civilian government. Towards the end of the war he lost the support of the army, and abdicated in November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands


Despite its membership in the Second International, the Social Democratic Party of Germany ended its differences with the Imperial government and abandoned its principles of internationalism to support the war effort.
It soon became apparent that Germany was not prepared for a war lasting more than a few months.
At first, little was done to regulate the economy for a wartime footing, and the German war economy would remain badly organized throughout the war.
Germany depended on imports of food and raw materials, which were stopped by the British naval blockade of Germany.
Food prices were first limited, then rationing was introduced.
The winter of 1916/17 was called “turnip winter” because the potato harvest was poor and people ate animal feed especially vile tasting turnips.
During the war from August 1914 to mid 1919, the excess deaths over peacetime caused by malnutrition and high rates of exhaustion and disease and despair came to about 474,000 civilians.

1914–15 

German Uhlans (Lancers) – 1914



All the armies, at the commencement of the war, imagined that the conflict would be conducted in the traditional manner, with fast moving’ mobile armies indulging in cavalry charges and set piece battles.
Briefly, that was the case, but soon the fighting slowed down, and eventually, for much of the conflict, became static.



Alfred Graf von Schlieffen
The German army opened the war on the Western Front with a modified version of the ‘Schlieffen Plan’, designed to quickly attack France through neutral Belgium before turning southwards to encircle the French army on the German border.
The Belgians fought back, and sabotaged their rail system to delay the Germans.
The Germans did not expect this and were delayed.
The plan called for the right flank of the German advance to converge on Paris and initially, the Germans were very successful, particularly in the Battle of the Frontiers (14–24 August).
By 12 September, the French with assistance from the British forces halted the German advance east of Paris at the First Battle of the Marne (5–12 September).
The last days of this battle signified the end of mobile warfare in the west.

French Cavalry Leave for the Front 1914

The French offensive into Germany launched on 7 August with the Battle of Mulhouse had limited success.

Imperial Russian Troops 1914

In the east, only one Field Army defended East Prussia and when Russia attacked in this region it diverted German forces intended for the Western Front.

Germany defeated Russia in a series of battles collectively known as the First Battle of Tannenberg (17 August – 2 September), but this diversion exacerbated problems of insufficient speed of advance from rail-heads not foreseen by the German General Staff.
The Central Powers

The Central Powers were thereby denied a quick victory and forced to fight a war on two fronts.
The German army had fought its way into a good defensive position inside France and had permanently incapacitated 230,000 more French and British troops than it had lost itself. 
Despite this, communications problems and questionable command decisions cost Germany the chance of obtaining an early victory.


German Zepplin Raids

Zepplin Command Cabin

The first Zeppelin raid on England took place in January 1915.

From then until the end of World War I the German Navy and Army Air Services mounted over 50 bombing raids on the United Kingdom. these were generally referred to as “Zeppelin raids”, although both Zeppelin and Schütte-Lanz airships were used.

From the beginning the airships had the advantage of flying at a higher altitude than could be reached by defending aircraft or anti-aircraft fire, and could carry a significant bomb-load; however, weather conditions and night flying conditions made navigation and therefore bombing accuracy difficult. Bombs could be dropped miles off target (one raid on London actually bombed Hull instead) and pin-point accuracy to hit military targets was impossible.

Zepplin LZ 32

The airships made 20 raids in 1915, mostly Navy, mostly Zeppelins, and dropped 37 tons of bombs, killing 181 and injuring another 455 people.

In 1916 improved defensive measures, including the introduction of incendiary bullets, made raids more hazardous, and several zeppelins were destroyed.

Newer classes of ships with improved ceilings restored the advantage, but led to further flying and navigation problems; oxygen was needed to fly at high altitude, and provision for an observation car, for bombing through clouds, reduced the bomb load.


German Gotha Bomber over London

Nevertheless, in 1916 23 raids dropped 125 tons of bombs, killing 293 and injuring 691 people.

In September 1916 the Army abandoned raids by airship in favour of developing a heavier than air alternative; in May 1917 saw the first ‘Gotha Raid’.


The Gotha G.V was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I. Designed for long range service, the G V series was used principally as night bombers.

The Navy, under FK Peter Strasser, continued with airships, though there were only six in 1917 and four in 1918.

Peter Strasser (right) Ferdinand von Zeppelin (centre)
Hugo Eckener (left)
The last Zeppelin raid on Britain took place in August 1918 when four ships bombed targets in the Midlands and the North of England.

Zepplin L70

The raid also a saw the loss of Strasser when L70 was shot down in flames over the North Sea.

Zeppelins performed about 51 strategic bombing raids during World War I.

These raids caused numerous civilian casualties, killing 557 and injuring another 1,358 people. More than 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain, causing £1.5 million in damage. 84 airships took part, of these 30 were lost, either shot down by enemy action or lost in accident.
The raids, though disconcerting to civilian morale, were militarily ineffective.

1916

1916 was characterized by two great battles on the Western front, at Verdun and Somme.

They each lasted most of the year, achieved minimal gains, and drained away the best soldiers of both sides.
Verdun became the iconic symbol of the murderous power of modern defensive weapons, with 280,000 German casualties, and 315,000 French.
At Somme, there were over 600,000 German casualties, against over 400,000 British, and nearly 200,000 French.
At Verdun, the Germans attacked what they considered to be a weak French salient which nevertheless the French would defend for reasons of national pride.
The Somme was part of a multinational plan of the Allies to attack on different fronts simultaneously.
The Battle marked the point at which German morale began a permanent decline and the strategic initiative was lost, along with irreplaceable veterans and confidence.

1917

Enthusiasm faded with the enormous numbers of casualties, the dwindling supply of manpower, the mounting difficulties on the home-front, and the never-ending flow of casualty reports.
A grimmer and grimmer attitude began to prevail among the general population.
Morale was helped by victories against Serbia, Greece, Italy, and Russia which made great gains for the Central Powers.
Morale was at its greatest since 1914 at the end of 1917 and beginning of 1918 with the defeat of Russia following her rise into revolution, and the German people braced for what Ludendorff said would be the ‘Friedensoffensive’ (Peace Offensive) in the West.

1918

In spring 1918, Germany realized that time was running out.
It prepared for the decisive strike with new armies and new tactics, expecting to win the war on the Western front before millions of American soldiers appeared in battle
General Erich von Ludendorff and Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg had full control of the army, they had a large supply of reinforcements moved him from the Eastern front, and they trained storm troopers with new tactics that raced through the trenches and attacked the enemy’s command and communications centers.
The new tactics would indeed restore mobility to the Western front, but the German army was too optimistic.
During the winter of 1917-18 it was “quiet” on the Western Front – British casualties averaged “only” 3,000 a week.
Serious attacks were impossible in the winter because of the deep mud.
Quietly the Germans brought in their best soldiers from the eastern front, selected elite ‘storm troops’, and trained them all winter in the new tactics.
With stopwatch timing, the German artillery would lay down a sudden, fearsome barrage just ahead of its advancing infantry.
Moving in small units, firing light machine guns, the storm troopers would bypass enemy strong-points, and head directly for critical bridges, command posts, supply dumps and, above all, artillery parks.
By cutting enemy communications they would paralyze response in the critical first half hour. By silencing the artillery they would break the enemy’s firepower.
Rigid schedules sent in two more waves of infantry to mop up the strong points that had been bypassed.
The ‘shock troops’ always frightened and disoriented the first line of defenders, who would flee in panic.
In one instance an easy-going Allied regiment broke and fled; reinforcements rushed in on bicycles.
The panicky men seized the bikes and beat an even faster retreat.
The storm-trooper tactics provided mobility, but not increased firepower.
Eventually – in 1939 and 1940 – the formula would be perfected with the aid of dive bombers and tanks, but in 1918 the Germans lacked both.

Erich von Ludendorff

Ludendorff erred by attacking the British first in 1918, instead of the French.

He mistakenly thought the British to be too uninspired to respond rapidly to the new tactics.
The exhausted, dispirited French perhaps might have folded.
The German assaults on the British were ferocious – the largest of the entire war
At the Somme River in March, 63 divisions attacked in a blinding fog.
No matter, the German lieutenants had memorized their maps and their orders.
The British lost 270,000 men, fell back 40 miles, and then held.
They quickly learned how to handle the new German tactics: fall back, abandon the trenches, let the attackers overextend themselves, and then counterattack.
They gained an advantage in firepower from their artillery and from tanks used as mobile pillboxes that could retreat and counterattack at will.
In April Ludendorff hit the British again, inflicting 305,000 casualties – but he lacked the reserves to follow up.
Ludendorf launched five great attacks between March and July, inflicting a million British and French casualties.
The Western Front now had opened up – trenches were still there but the importance of mobility now reasserted itself.
The Allies held.
The Germans suffered as many casualties as they inflicted, including most of their precious storm-troopers.
The new German replacements were under-aged youth or embittered middle-aged family men in poor condition.
They were not inspired by the elan of 1914, nor thrilled with battle – they hated it, and some began talking of revolution.
Ludendorff could not replace his losses, nor could he devise a new method that might somehow snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The British likewise were bringing in boys and men aged 50, but since their home-front was in good condition, and since they could see the Americans pouring in, their morale was stiff.
The great German spring offensive was a race against time, for everyone could see the Americans were training millions of fresh young man would eventually arrive on the Western Front.
The attrition warfare now caught up to both sides.
Germany had used up all the good fighters they had, and still had not conquered much territory. The British were out of fresh manpower, the French nearly so.
Berlin had calculated it would take months for the Americans to ship all their men and supplies – but the Americans came much sooner, for they left their supplies behind, and relied on British and French artillery, tanks, airplanes, trucks and equipment.
Berlin also assumed that Americans were fat, undisciplined and unaccustomed to hardship and severe fighting.
They soon discovered these supposedly soft, materialistic Americans really could fight.
The Germans reported that “The qualities of the Americans individually may be described as remarkable.They are physically well set up, their attitude is good… They lack at present only training and experience to make formidable adversaries. The men are in fine spirits and are filled with naive assurance.
By September 1918, the Central Powers were exhausted from fighting, and the American forces were pouring into France at 10,000 a day.

A7V ‘Sturmpanzer’ Heavy Tank

In contrast to World War II, Germany fielded very few tanks during World War I, with only 20 of the A7V type being produced during the war.
The first tank versus tank action took place on 24 April 1918 at the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, France, when three British Mark IVs met three German A7Vs. Captured British Mk IVs formed the bulk of Germany’s tank forces during World War I; about 35 were in service at any one time. Plans to expand the tank programme were under way when the War ended.

A7V ‘Sturmpanzer’ Heavy Tank

The A7V tank was introduced by Germany in 1918, near the end of World War I. One hundred vehicles were ordered during the spring of 1918, but only 20 were delivered. They were used in action from March to October of that year, and were the only tanks produced by Germany in World War I to be used in operations.
The A7V was 7.34 metres (24.1 ft) long, 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide, and the maximum height was 3.3 metres (11 ft). The tank had 20 mm of steel plate at the sides, 30 mm at the front and 10 mm for the roof.

The crew normally consisted of up to seventeen soldiers and one officer: commander (officer, typically a lieutenant), driver, mechanic, mechanic/signaller, twelve infantrymen (six machine gunners, six loaders), and two artillerymen (main gunner and loader).

Wappen der Weimarer Republik
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The decisive Allied counteroffensive, known as the ‘Hundred Days Offensive’, began on 8 August 1918 – what Ludendorff called the ‘Schwarzer Tag der deutschen Armee’ (Black Day of the German army).

The Allied armies advanced steadily as German defenses faltered.
Although German armies were still on enemy soil as the war ended, the generals, the civilian leadership – and indeed the soldiers and the people – knew all was hopeless.
They started looking for scapegoats.
The hunger and popular dissatisfaction with the war precipitated revolution throughout Germany.
By 11 November Germany had virtually surrendered, the Kaiser and all the royal families had abdicated, and the Empire had been replaced by the Weimar Republic.


The German Home Front

Germany had no plans for mobilizing its civilian economy for the war effort, and no stockpiles of food or critical supplies had been made.
Germany had to improvise rapidly.
All major political sectors supported the war at least at first, including the Socialists.
The “spirit of 1914” was the overwhelming, enthusiastic support of all elements of the population for war in 1914.
In the Reichstag, the vote for credits was unanimous, with all the Socialist joining in.
One professor testified to a “great single feeling of moral elevation of soaring of religious sentiment, in short, the ascent of a whole people to the heights.”
At the same time, there was a level of anxiety; most commentators predicted the short victorious war – but that hope was dashed in a matter of weeks, as the invasion of Belgium bogged down and the French Army held in front of Paris.
The Western Front became a killing machine, as neither army moved more than a few hundred yards at a time. 
Industry In late 1914 was in chaos, unemployment soared while it took months to reconvert to munitions productions.
In 1916, the ‘Hindenburg Program’ called for the mobilization of all economic resources to produce artillery, shells, and machine guns.
Church bells and copper roofs were ripped out and melted down.
The German economy was severely handicapped by the British blockade, that cut off food supplies
The mobilization of so many farmers – and horses – steadily reduce the food supply.
Supplies that had once come in from Russia and Austria were cut off.
The concept of ‘totalen Krieg’ (total war) in World War I, meant that supplies had to be redirected towards the armed forces and, with German commerce being stopped by the British blockade, German civilians were forced to live in increasingly meager conditions.
Food prices were first controlled.
Bread rationing was introduced in 1915 but apart from Berlin it never worked well.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians died from malnutrition – usually from a typhus, or a disease their weakened body could not resist. (Starvation itself rarely caused death.)
Conditions deteriorated rapidly on the home front, with severe food shortages reported in all urban areas.
The causes involved the transfer of so many farmers and food workers into the military, combined with the overburdened railroad system, shortages of coal, and the British blockade that cut off imports from abroad.
The winter of 1916-1917 was known as the “turnip winter,” because that hardly-edible vegetable, usually fed to livestock, was used by people as a substitute for potatoes and meat, which were increasingly scarce.
Thousands of soup kitchens were opened to feed the hungry people, who grumbled that the farmers were keeping the food for themselves.
Even the army had to cut the rations for soldiers.
Morale of both civilians and soldiers continued to sink.
The drafting of miners reduced the main energy source, coal.
The textile factories produced Army uniforms, and warm clothing for civilians ran short.
The device of using ‘ersatz’ materials, such as paper and cardboard for cloth and leather proved unsatisfactory.
Soap was in short supply, as was hot water.
All the cities reduced tram services, cut back on street lighting, and close down theaters and cabarets.
The food supply increasingly focused on potatoes and bread, it was harder and harder to buy meat.
The meat ration in late 1916 was only 31% of peacetime, and it fell to 12% in late 1918.
The fish ration was 51% in 1916, and none at all by late 1917.
The rations for cheese, butter, rice, cereals, eggs and lard were less than 20% of peacetime levels.
In 1917 the harvest was poor, and the potato supply ran short, and Germans substituted almost inedible turnips; the “turnip winter” of 1917–18 was remembered with bitter distaste for generations.
German women were not employed in the Army, but large numbers took paid employment in industry and factories, and even larger numbers engaged in volunteer services.
Housewives were taught how to cook without milk, eggs or fat; agencies helped widows find work.
Banks, insurance companies and government offices for the first time hired women for clerical positions.
Factories hired them for unskilled labor – by December 1917, half the workers in chemicals, metals, and machine tools were women.
Laws protecting women in the workplace were relaxed, and factories set up canteens to provide food for their workers, lest their productivity fall off.
The food situation in 1918 was better, because the harvest was better, but serious shortages continued, with high prices, and a complete lack of condiments and fresh fruit.
Many migrants had flocked into cities to work in industry, which made for overcrowded housing. Reduced coal supplies left everyone in the cold.
Daily life involved long working hours, poor health, and little or no recreation, an increasing fears for the safety of loved ones in the Army and in prisoner of war camp.
The men who returned from the front were those who had been permanently crippled; wounded soldiers who had recovered were sent back to the trenches.

Defeat and Socialist Revolution 

German Troops Returning Through the Brandenburg Gate 1918

Many Germans wanted an end to the war and increasing numbers of Germans began to associate with the political left, such as the Social Democratic Party and the more radical Independent Social Democratic Party which demanded an end to the war.

The third reason was the entry of the United States into the war in April 1917, which changed the long-run balance of power in favor of the Allies.
The end of October 1918, in Kiel, in northern Germany, saw the beginning of the German Revolution of 1918–19.
Civilian dock workers led a revolt and convinced many sailors to join them; the revolt quickly spread to other cities.

Generalfeldmarschall
Paul von Hindenburg

Meanwhile, Hindenburg and the senior generals lost confidence in the Kaiser and his government.

In November 1918, with internal revolution, a stalemated war, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire suing for peace, Austria-Hungary falling apart from multiple ethnic tensions, and pressure from the German high command, the Kaiser and all German ruling princes abdicated.
On 9 November 1918, the Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed a Republic, in cooperation with the business and middle classes, not the revolting workers.
The new government led by the German Social Democrats called for and received an armistice on 11 November 1918; in practice it was a surrender, and the Allies kept up the food blockade to guarantee an upper hand.
The war was over; the history books closed on the German Empire
It was succeeded by the democratic, yet flawed, Weimar Republic.
Seven million soldiers and sailors were quickly demobilized, and they became a conservative voice that drowned out the radical left in cities such as Kiel and Berlin.
The radicals formed the ‘Spartakusbund’ and later the ‘Communist Party of Germany’ (KPD).
Germany lost the war because it was decisively defeated by a stronger military power; it was out of soldiers and ideas, and was losing ground every day by October 1918.
Nevertheless it was still in France when the war ended on Nov. 11 giving die-hard nationalists the chance to blame the civilians back home for betraying the army and surrendering.
This was the ‘Dolchstoß in den Rücken Legende’ (Stab-in-the-back legend) that re-emerged in German politics in the 1920s, and caused a distrust of democracy and the Weimar government.


Kaiser Wilhelm II and the ‘Grosse Krieg’

Paul von Hindenburg – General Ludendorff
and Kaiser Wilhelm II

Wilhelm’s role in wartime was of ever-decreasing power as he increasingly handled awards ceremonies and honorific duties.

The high command foolishly continued with its strategy even when it was clear that the Schlieffen plan had failed.
By 1916 the Empire had effectively become a military dictatorship under the control of Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff.
Paul von Hindenburg

Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, known universally as Paul von Hindenburg –  (2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934) was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934.
Hindenburg enjoyed a long career in the Prussian Army, retiring in 1911. He was recalled at the outbreak of World War I, and first came to national attention, at the age of 66, as the victor at Tannenberg in 1914. As Germany’s Chief of the General Staff from 1916, he and his deputy, Erich Ludendorff, rose in the German public’s esteem until Hindenburg came to eclipse the Kaiser himself.
Hindenburg retired again in 1919, but returned to public life one more time in 1925 to be elected as the second President of Germany.



Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (sometimes referred to as von Ludendorff) (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg. From August 1916 his appointment as Quartermaster general made him joint head (with Paul von Hindenburg), and chief engineer behind the management of Germany’s effort in World War I until his resignation in October 1918.
After the war, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist leader who was convinced that the German Army had been betrayed by Marxists and Republicans in the Versailles Treaty. He took part in the unsuccessful coups d’état of Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 and the Beer Hall Putsch of Adolf Hitler in 1923, and in 1925 he ran for president against his former colleague, Paul von Hindenburg,


Increasingly cut off from reality and the political decision-making process, Wilhelm vacillated between defeatism and dreams of victory, depending upon the fortunes of his armies. Nevertheless, Wilhelm still retained the ultimate authority in matters of political appointment, and it was only after his consent had been gained that major changes to the high command could be effected.

Helmuth von Moltke
Prinz Ruprecht and Wilhelm II
Wilhelm was in favour of the dismissal of Helmuth von Moltke the Younger in September 1914 and his replacement by Erich von Falkenhayn.

Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke (23 May 1848, Biendorf – 18 June 1916), also known as Moltke the Younger, was a nephew of Field Marshal Count Moltke and served as the Chief of the German General Staff from 1906 to 1914. The two are often differentiated as Moltke the Elder and Moltke the Younger. Moltke the Younger’s role in the development of German war plans and the instigation of the First World War is extremely controversial.



Erich von Falkenhayn

Erich von Falkenhayn (11 September 1861 – 8 April 1922) was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. He became a military writer after World War I.

Falkenhayn succeeded Moltke as Chief of the General Staff of the German Army after the Battle of the Marne on 14 September 1914. Confronted with the failure of the Schlieffen Plan due to Moltke’s interference, he attempted to outflank the British and French in the “Race to the Sea”, a series of engagements throughout northern France and Belgium in which each side tried to turn the other’s flank until they reached the coastline. The British and French eventually stopped the Germans at the First Battle of Ypres (October–November 1914).
Falkenhayn preferred an offensive strategy on the Western Front while conducting a limited campaign in the east: he hoped that Russia would accept a separate armistice more easily if it had not been humiliated too much. This brought him into conflict with Hindenburg and Ludendorff, who favored massive offensives in the east. Eventually – either in the hope that a massive slaughter would lead Europe’s political leaders to consider ending the war, or that losses would in the end be less harmful for Germany than for France – Falkenhayn staged a massive battle of attrition, as claimed in his post-war memoires, at Verdun in early 1916. Although more than a quarter of a million soldiers eventually died – for which Falkenhayn was sometimes called “the Blood-Miller of Verdun” – neither side’s resolve was lessened, because, contrary to Falkenhayn’s assumptions, the Entente was able to replace their dead. 
After the failure at Verdun, coupled with several reverses in the east and incessant lobbying by Hindenburg and Ludendorff, Falkenhayn was replaced as Chief of Staff by Hindenburg.

Georg Michaelis
In 1917, Hindenburg and Ludendorff decided that Bethman-Hollweg was no longer acceptable to them as Chancellor and called upon the Kaiser to appoint somebody else.
When asked whom they would accept, Ludendorff recommended Georg Michaelis, a nonentity he barely knew.
The Kaiser did not know Michaelis, but accepted the suggestion.
The Kaiser’s support collapsed completely in October–November 1918 in the army, in the civilian government, and in German public opinion, as President Woodrow Wilson made clear the Kaiser could no longer be a party to peace negotiations.
That year Wilhelm also became seriously ill during the worldwide 1918 flu pandemic, though he survived.


Abdication

Wilhelm was at the Imperial Army headquarters in Spa, Belgium, when the uprisings in Berlin and other centres took him by surprise in late 1918.

The Kiel Mutiny – 1918

Mutiny among the ranks of his beloved Kaiserliche Marine, the imperial navy, profoundly shocked him.

The Kiel mutiny was a major revolt by sailors of the German High Seas Fleet on 3 November 1918. The revolt triggered the German revolution which was to sweep aside the monarchy within a few days. It ultimately led to the end of the German Empire and to the establishment of the Weimar Republic.
On 7 November, the revolution had spread as far south as München, causing Ludwig III of Bavaria to flee.

After the outbreak of the German Revolution, Wilhelm could not make up his mind whether or not to abdicate.
Up to that point, he was confident that even if he were obliged to vacate the German throne, he would still retain the Prussian kingship.

Socialist Revolution – Berlin – 1919
Maximillian Prinz von Baden

The unreality of this belief was revealed when, in the hope of preserving the monarchy in the face of growing revolutionary unrest, Wilhelm’s abdication both as German Emperor and King of Prussia was abruptly announced by the Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, on 9 November 1918.
Prince Max himself was forced to resign later the same day, when it became clear that only Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD could effectively exert control.
Wilhelm consented to the abdication only after Ludendorff’s replacement, General Wilhelm Groener, had informed him that the officers and men of the army would march back in good order under Paul von Hindenburg’s command, but would certainly not fight for Wilhelm’s throne on the home front.
The monarchy’s last and strongest support had been broken, and finally even Hindenburg, himself a lifelong royalist, was obliged, with some embarrassment, to advise the Emperor to give up the crown, thus ending the Hohenzollern dynasty’s five-century rule.
The fact that the High Command might one day abandon the Kaiser had been foreseen in December 1897, when Wilhelm had visited Otto von Bismarck for the last time.
Bismarck had again warned the Kaiser about the increasing influence of militarists, especially of the admirals who were pushing for the construction of a battle fleet.
Bismarck’s last warning had been:
‘Your Majesty, so long as you have this present officer corps, you can do as you please. But when this is no longer the case, it will be very different for you.’
Subsequently, Bismarck had predicted accurately:
Jena came twenty years after the death of Frederick the Great; the crash will come twenty years after my departure if things go on like this” – a prophecy fulfilled almost to the month.
On November 10, Wilhelm Hohenzollern crossed the border by train, as a private citizen, and went into exile in the Netherlands, which had remained neutral throughout the war.
Upon the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles in early 1919, Article 227 expressly provided for the prosecution of Wilhelm “for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties“, but Queen Wilhelmina refused to extradite him, despite appeals from the Allies.
King-Emperor George V wrote that he looked on his cousin as “the greatest criminal in history (?)“, but opposed Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s proposal to “hang the Kaiser“.
President Wilson rejected extradition, arguing that punishing Wilhelm for waging war would destabilize international order and lose the peace.

Wilhelm after his Abdication

The erstwhile Emperor first settled in Amerongen, where on 28 November he issued a formal statement of abdication.

He subsequently purchased a country house in the municipality of Doorn on 16 August 1919 and moved in on 15 May 1920.
This was to be his home for the remainder of his life.
From this residence, ‘Huis Doorn’, Wilhelm absolved his officers and servants of their oath of loyalty to him; however, he himself never formally relinquished his titles, and hoped to return to Germany in the future.
The Weimar Republic allowed Wilhelm to remove twenty-three railway wagons of furniture, twenty-seven containing packages of all sorts, one bearing a car and another a boat, from the New Palace at Potsdam.


Aftermath

Out of a population of 65 million, Germany suffered 2.1 million military deaths and 430,000 civilian deaths due to wartime causes (especially the food blockade), plus about 17,000 killed in Africa and the other overseas colonies.
The Allied blockade continued until July 1919, causing severe additional hardships.

The Causes of the ‘Great War’

THE CAUSES OF THE ‘GREAT WAR’
The causes of World War I, which began in central Europe in late July 1914, included intertwined factors, such as the conflicts and hostility of the four decades leading up to the war.
Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism played major roles in the conflict as well.
The immediate origins of the war, however, lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the Crisis of 1914, ‘casus belli’ for which was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by Gavrilo Princip, an irredentist Serb.

The crisis came after a long and difficult series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, the British Empire, the Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decade before 1914 that had left tensions high.
In turn these diplomatic clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1867.
The more immediate cause for the war was tensions over territory in the Balkans.
Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region, and they pulled the rest of the Great Powers into the conflict through their various alliances and treaties.

Background
In November 1912, Russia was humiliated because of its inability to support Serbia during the Bosnian crisis of 1908 – also known as the ‘First Balkan War’, and announced a major reconstruction of its military.
On November 28, German Foreign Secretary Gottlieb von Jagow told the Reichstag, that “If Austria is forced, for whatever reason, to fight for its position as a Great Power, then we must stand by her.
As a result, British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey responded by warning Prince Karl Lichnowsky, the Germany Ambassador in London, that if Germany offered Austria a “blank cheque” for war in the Balkans, then “the consequences of such a policy would be incalculable.”
To reinforce this point, R. B. Haldane, the Germanophile Lord Chancellor, met with Prince Lichnowsky to offer an explicit warning that if Germany were to attack France, Britain would intervene in France’s favor.
With the recently announced Russian military reconstruction and certain British communications, the possibility of war was a leading topic at the German Imperial War Council of 8 December 1912 in Berlin, an informal meeting of some of Germany’s top military leadership called on short notice by the Kaiser.
Attending the conference were Kaiser Wilhelm II, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz – the Naval State Secretary, Admiral Georg Alexander von Müller, the Chief of the German Imperial Naval Cabinet (Marinekabinett), General von Moltke – the Army’s Chief of Staff, Admiral August von Heeringen – the Chief of the Naval General Staff and General Moriz von Lyncker, the Chief of the German Imperial Military Cabinet.
The presence of the leaders of both the German Army and Navy at this War Council attests to its importance, however, Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg and General Josias von Heeringen, the Prussian Minister of War, were not invited.
Wilhelm II called British ‘balance of power’ concept “idiocy,” but agreed that Haldane’s statement was a “desirable clarification” of British policy.
His opinion was that Austria should attack that December and/ if “Russia supports the Serbs, which she evidently does…then war would be unavoidable for us, too,” and that would be better than going to war after Russia completed the massive modernization and expansion of their army that they had just begun. Moltke agreed.
In his professional military opinion “a war is unavoidable and the sooner the better“.
Moltke “wanted to launch an immediate attack“.
Both Wilhelm II and the Army leadership agreed that if a war were necessary it were best launched soon. Admiral Tirpitz, however, asked for a “postponement of the great fight for one and a half years” because the Navy was not ready for a general war that included Britain as an opponent.
He insisted that the completion of the construction of the U-boat base at Heligoland and the widening of the Kiel Canal were the Navy’s prerequisites for war.
The date for completion of the widening of the Kiel Canal was the summer of 1914.
Though Moltke objected to the postponement of the war as unacceptable, Wilhelm sided with Tirpitz. Moltke “agreed to a postponement only reluctantly.”
It should be noted that this War Council only showed the thinking and recommendations of those present, with no decisions taken.
Admiral Müller’s diary states: “That was the end of the conference. The result amounted to nothing.” Certainly the only decision taken was to do nothing.
With the November 1912 announcement of the Russian ‘Great Military Programme’, the leadership of the German Army began clamoring even more strongly for a “preventive war” against Russia.
Moltke declared that Germany could not win the arms race with France, Britain and Russia, which she herself had begun in 1911, because the financial structure of the German state, which gave the Reich government little power to tax, meant Germany would bankrupt herself in an arms race.
As such, Moltke from late 1912 onward was the leading advocate for a general war, and the sooner the better.
Throughout May and June 1914, Moltke engaged in an “almost ultimative” demand for a German “preventive war” against Russia in 1914.
The German Foreign Secretary, Gottlieb von Jagow, reported on a discussion with Moltke at the end of May 1914:
Moltke described to me his opinion of our military situation. The prospects of the future oppressed him heavily. In two or three years Russia would have completed her armaments. The military superiority of our enemies would then be so great that he did not know how he could overcome them. Today we would still be a match for them. In his opinion there was no alternative to making preventive war in order to defeat the enemy while we still had a chance of victory. The Chief of the General Staff therefore proposed that I should conduct a policy with the aim of provoking a war in the near future.”
The new French President Raymond Poincaré, who took office in 1913, was favourable to improving relations with Germany.
In January 1914 Poincaré became the first French President to dine at the German Embassy in Paris.
Poincaré was more interested in the idea of French expansion in the Middle East than a war of revenge to regain Alsace-Lorraine.
Had the Reich been interested in improved relations with France before August 1914, the opportunity was available, but the leadership of the Reich lacked such interests, and preferred a policy of war to destroy France.
Because of France’s smaller economy and population, by 1913 French leaders had largely accepted that France by itself could never defeat Germany.
In May 1914, Serbian politics were polarized between two factions, one headed by the Prime Minister Nikola Pašić, and the other by the radical nationalist chief of Military Intelligence, Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević, known by his codename Apis.
In that month, due to Colonel Dimitrigjevic’s intrigues, King Peter dismissed Pašić’s government.
The Russian Minister in Belgrade intervened to have Pašić’s government restored.
Pašić, though he often talked tough in public, knew that Serbia was near-bankrupt and, having suffered heavy casualties in the Balkan Wars and in the suppression of a December 1913 Albanian revolt in Kosovo, needed peace.
Since Russia also favoured peace in the Balkans, from the Russian viewpoint it was desirable to keep Pašić in power.
It was in the midst of this political crisis that politically powerful members of the Serbian military armed and trained three Bosnian students as assassins and sent them into Austria-Hungary.
Domestic Political Factors
German Domestic Politics  –  Left-wing parties, especially the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) made large gains in the 1912 German election.
German government at the time was still dominated by the Prussian Junkers who feared the rise of these left-wing parties.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Junker was an often pejorative designation for a member of the landed nobility in Prussia and eastern Germany.
Supporting monarchism and military traditions, they were seen as reactionary, anti-democratic and protectionist. This political class held tremendous power over industrial classes and government alike.
It is possible that the Junkers deliberately sought an external war to distract the population and whip up patriotic support for the government.
Russia was in the midst of a large-scale military build-up and reform that they completed in 1916–17.
It is also argued, however, that German conservatives were ambivalent about a war, worrying that losing a war would have disastrous consequences, and even a successful war might alienate the population if it were lengthy or difficult.
French Domestic Politics  –  The situation in France was quite different from that in Germany as going to war appeared to the majority of political and military leaders to be a potentially costly gamble.
It is undeniable that forty years after the loss of Alsace-Lorraine a vast number of French were still angered by the territorial loss, as well as by the humiliation of being compelled to pay a large reparation to Germany in 1870.
The diplomatic alienation of France orchestrated by Germany prior to World War I caused further resentment in France.
Nevertheless, the leaders of France recognized Germany’s strong military advantage against them, as Germany had nearly twice as much population and a better equipped army.
At the same time, the episodes of the Tangier Crisis in 1905 and the Agadir Crisis in 1911 had given France a strong indication that war with Germany could be inevitable if Germany continued to oppose French colonial expansionism.
More than a century after the French Revolution, there was still a fierce struggle between the left-wing French government and its right-wing opponents.

Austria

In 1867, the Austrian Empire fundamentally changed its governmental structure, becoming the ‘Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary’.
For hundreds of years, the empire had been run in an essentially feudal manner, with a German-speaking aristocracy at its head, however, with the threat represented by an emergence of nationalism within the empire’s many component ethnicities, some elements, including Emperor Franz Joseph, decided that a compromise was required to preserve the power of the German aristocracy.
In 1867, the Ausgleich was agreed on, which made the Magyar (Hungarian) elite in Hungary almost equal partners in the government of Austria-Hungary.
This arrangement fostered a tremendous degree of dissatisfaction among many in the traditional German ruling classes.
Some of them considered the Ausgleich to have been a calamity, because it often frustrated their intentions in the governance of Austria-Hungary.
For example, it was extremely difficult for Austria-Hungary to form a coherent foreign policy that suited the interests of both the German and Magyar elite.
Throughout the fifty years from 1867 to 1914, it proved difficult to reach adequate compromises in the governance of Austria-Hungary.
At the same time, a form of social Darwinism became popular among many in the Austrian half of the government.
This thinking emphasised the primacy of armed struggle between nations, and the need for nations to arm themselves for an ultimate struggle for survival.
As a result, at least two distinct strains of thought advocated war with Serbia, often unified in the same people.
Some reasoned that dealing with political deadlock required that more Slavs be brought into Austria-Hungary to dilute the power of the Magyar elite.
With more Slavs, the South Slavs of Austria-Hungary could force a new political compromise in which the Germans could play the Magyars against the South Slavs.
Another fear was that the South Slavs, primarily under the leadership of Serbia, were organizing for a war against Austria-Hungary, and even all of Germanic civilization.
Some leaders, such as Conrad von Hötzendorf, argued that Serbia must be dealt with before it became too powerful to defeat militarily.
A powerful contingent within the Austro-Hungarian government was motivated by these thoughts and advocated war with Serbia long before the war began.
Prominent members of this group included Leopold von Berchtold, Alexander von Hoyos, and Johann von Forgách.
Although many other members of the government, notably Franz Ferdinand, Franz Joseph, and many Hungarian politicians did not believe that a violent struggle with Serbia would necessarily solve any of Austria-Hungary’s problems, the hawkish elements did exert a strong influence on government policy, holding key positions.
It is important to understand the central role of Austria-Hungary in starting the war.
Convinced Serbian nationalism and Russian Balkan ambitions were disintegrating the Empire, Austria-Hungary hoped for a limited war against Serbia and that strong German support would force Russia to keep out of the war and weaken its Balkan prestige.

Imperialism

Some attribute the start of the war to imperialism.
Countries such as the United Kingdom and France accumulated great wealth in the late 19th century through their control of trade in foreign resources, markets, territories, and people.
Other empires, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Russia all hoped to do so as well in economic advantage.
Their frustrated ambitions, and British policies of strategic exclusion created tensions.
In addition, the limits of natural resources in many European nations began to slowly alter trade balance, and make national industries seek new territories rich in natural resources.
Commercial interests contributed substantially to Anglo-German rivalry during the scramble for tropical Africa.
This was the scene of sharpest conflict between certain German and British commercial interests.
There have been two partitions of Africa.
One involved the actual imposition of political boundaries across the continent during the last quarter of the 19th century; the other, which actually commenced in the mid-19th century, consisted of the so-called ‘business’ partition.
In southern Africa the latter partition followed rapidly upon the discoveries of diamonds and gold in 1867 and 1886 respectively.
An integral part of this second partition was the expansion in the interior of British capital interests, primarily the British South Africa Company and mining companies such as De Beers.
After 1886 the Witwatersrand goldfields prompted feverish activity among European as well as British capitalists.
It was soon felt in Whitehall that German commercial penetration in particular constituted a direct threat to Britain’s continued economic and political hegemony south of the Limpopo.
Amid the expanding web of German business on the Rand, the most contentious operations were those of the German-financed N.Z.A.S.M. or Netherlands South African Railway Company, which possessed a railway monopoly in the Transvaal.
Rivalries for not just colonies, but colonial trade and trade routes developed between the emerging economic powers and the incumbent great powers.

Berlin-Baghdad Railway

This rivalry was illustrated in the Berlin-Baghdad Railway, which would have given German industry access to Iraqi oil, and German trade a southern port in the Persian Gulf.
A history of this railroad in the context of World War I has arrived to describe the German interests in countering the British Empire at a global level, and Turkey’s interest in countering their Russian rivals at a regional level.
It was felt in England that if, as Napoleon is said to have remarked, Antwerp in the hands of a great continental power was a pistol leveled at the English coast, Bagdad and the Persian Gulf in the hands of Germany (or any other strong power) would be a 42-centimetre gun pointed at India.’
On the other side, “Public opinion in Germany was feasting on visions of Cairo, Baghdad, and Tehran, and the possibility of evading the British blockade through outlets to the Indian Ocean.”
Britain’s initial strategic exclusion of others from northern access to a Persian Gulf port in the creation of Kuwait by treaty as a protected, subsidized client state showed political recognition of the importance of the issue.
If outcome is revealing, by the close of the war this political recognition was re-emphasized in the military effort to capture the railway itself, recounted with perspective in a contemporary history: “On the 26th Aleppo fell, and on the 28th we reached Muslimieh, that junction on the Baghdad railway on which longing eyes had been cast as the nodal point in the conflict of German and other ambitions in the East.”
The Treaty of Versailles explicitly removed all German ownership thereafter, which without Ottoman rule left access to Mesopotamian and Persian oil, and northern access to a southern port in British hands alone.

Otto von Bismarck

Rivalries among the great powers were exacerbated starting in the 1880s by the scramble for colonies, which brought much of Africa and Asia under European rule in the following quarter-century.
It also created great Anglo-French and Anglo-Russian tensions and crises that prevented a British alliance with either until the early 20th century.
Otto von Bismarck disliked the idea of an overseas empire, but pursued a colonial policy to court domestic political support.
This started Anglo-German tensions since German acquisitions in Africa and the Pacific threatened to impinge upon British strategic and commercial interests.
Bismarck supported French colonization in Africa because it diverted government attention and resources away from continental Europe and revanchism.
In spite of all of Bismarck’s deft diplomatic maneuvering, in 1890 he was forced to resign by the new Kaiser (Wilhelm II).
His successor, Leo von Caprivi, was the last German Chancellor who was successful in calming Anglo-German tensions.

Leo von Caprivi

After his loss of office in 1894, German policy led to greater conflicts with the other colonial powers.
The status of Morocco had been guaranteed by international agreement, and when France attempted to greatly expand its influence there without the assent of all the other signatories Germany opposed it prompting the ‘Moroccan Crise’s, the ‘Tangier Crisis’ of 1905 and the ‘Agadir Crisis’ of 1911.
The intent of German policy was to drive a wedge between the British and French, but in both cases produced the opposite effect, and Germany was isolated diplomatically, most notably lacking the support of Italy despite Italian membership in the Triple Alliance.
The French protectorate over Morocco was established officially in 1912.
In 1914, there were no outstanding colonial conflicts, Africa essentially having been claimed fully, apart from Ethiopia, for several years, however, the competitive mentality, as well as a fear of “being left behind” in the competition for the world’s resources may have played a role in the decisions to begin the conflict.

The Arms Race

A self-reinforcing cycle of heightened military preparedness…was an essential element in the conjuncture that led to disaster…The armaments race…was a necessary precondition for the outbreak of hostilities.
If Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated in 1904 or even in 1911, there might have been no war. It was…the armaments race…and the speculation about imminent or preventive wars  that made his death in 1914 the trigger for war.
Some historians see the German naval build-up as the principal cause of deteriorating Anglo-German relations.
The overwhelming British response, however, proved to Germany that its efforts were unlikely to equal the Royal Navy.
In 1900, the British had a 3.7:1 tonnage advantage over Germany; in 1910 the ratio was 2.3:1 and in 1914, 2.1:1.
So decisive was the British victory in the naval arms race that it is hard to regard it as in any meaningful sense a cause of the First World War.

This ignores the fact that the Kaiserliche Marine had narrowed the gap by nearly half, and that the Royal Navy had long intended to be stronger than any two potential opponents; the United States Navy was in a period of growth, making the German gains very ominous.
Technological changes, with oil- rather than coal-fuelled ships, decreasing refuelling time while increasing speed and range, and with superior armour and guns also would favour the growing, and newer, German fleet.
One of the aims of the ‘First Hague Conference’ of 1899, held at the suggestion of Russian Emperor Nicholas II, was to discuss disarmament.
The ‘Second Hague Conference’ was held in 1907.
All the signatories except for Germany supported disarmament.
Germany also did not want to agree to binding arbitration and mediation.
The Kaiser was concerned that the United States would propose disarmament measures, which he opposed.

Russian interests in Balkans and Ottoman Empire

The main Russian goals included strengthening its role as the protector of Eastern Christians in the Balkans (such as the Serbians).
Although Russia enjoyed a booming economy, growing population, and large armed forces, its strategic position was threatened by an expanding Turkish military trained by German experts using the latest technology.
The start of the war renewed attention of old goals: expelling the Turks from Constantinople, extending Russian dominion into eastern Anatolia and Persian Azerbaijan, and annexing Galicia.
These conquests would assure Russian predominance in the Black Sea.

Over by Christmas

Field Marshal Lord
Horatio Herbert Kitchener 

Both sides believed, and publicly stated, that the war would end soon.

The Kaiser told his troops that they would be, “…home before the leaves have fallen from the trees,” and one German officer said he expected to be in Paris by Sedantag, about six weeks away.
Germany only stockpiled enough potassium nitrate for gunpowder for six months.
Russian officers similarly expected to be in Berlin in six weeks, and those who suggested that the war would last for six months were considered pessimists.
Von Moltke and his French counterpart Joseph Joffre were among the few who expected a long war, but neither adjusted his nation’s military plans accordingly.
The new British Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, was the only leading official on either side to both expect a long war (“three years” or longer, he told an amazed colleague) and act accordingly, immediately building an army of millions of soldiers who would fight for years.


Schlieffen Plan

Alfred Graf von Schlieffen 

Germany’s strategic vulnerability, sandwiched between its allied rivals, led to the development of the audacious (and incredibly expensive) Schlieffen Plan.

It aimed to knock France instantly out of contention, before Russia had time to mobilize its gigantic human reserves.
It aimed to accomplish this task within 6 weeks.
Germany could then turn her full resources to meeting the Russian threat.
Although Count Alfred von Schlieffen initially conceived the plan before his retirement in 1906, Japan’s defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 exposed Russia’s organizational weakness and added greatly to the plan’s credibility.
The plan called for a rapid German mobilization, sweeping through the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium, into France.
Schlieffen called for overwhelming numbers on the far right flank, the northernmost spearhead of the force with only minimum troops making up the arm and axis of the formation as well as a minimum force stationed on the Russian eastern front.
Helmuth von Moltke

Schlieffen was replaced by Helmuth von Moltke, and in 1907–08 Moltke adjusted the plan, reducing the proportional distribution of the forces, lessening the crucial right wing in favor of a slightly more defensive strategy.

Also, judging Holland unlikely to grant permission to cross its borders, the plan was revised to make a direct move through Belgium, and an artillery assault on the Belgian city of Liège.
With the rail lines and the unprecedented firepower the German army brought, Moltke did not expect any significant defense of the fortress.
The significance of the Schlieffen Plan is that it forced German military planners to prepare for a pre-emptive strike when war was deemed unavoidable.
Otherwise Russia would have time to mobilize and crush Germany with its massive army.
On August 1, Kaiser Wilhelm II briefly became convinced that it might be possible to ensure French and British neutrality, and cancelled the plan despite the objections of the Chief of Staff that this could not be done, and resuming it only when the offer of a neutral France and Britain was withdrawn.
It appears that no war planners in any country had prepared effectively for the Schlieffen Plan.
The French were not concerned about such a move. They were confident their offensive (Plan XVII) would break the German center and cut off the German right wing moving through Belgium.
They also expected that an early Russian offensive in East Prussia would tie down German forces.

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand 

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead in Sarajevo, by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six Bosnian Serb assassins coordinated by Danilo Ilić.

Franz Ferdinand, eldest son of Carl Ludwig, the brother of Emperor Franz Josef, was born in 1863. Educated by private tutors, he joined the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1883.
His military career included service with an infantry regiment in Prague and with the hussars in Hungary.
While in the army Ferdinand received several promotions: captain (1885), major (1888), colonel (1890) and general (1896). 

Crown Prince Rupert

In 1889, Rudolf (21 August 1858 – 30 January 1889), Erzherzog von Österreich (Archduke of Austria) and Kronprinz von Österreich, Ungarn und Böhmen, (Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia,) the son of Franz Josef, shot himself at his hunting lodge.
The succession now passed to Franz Ferdinand’s father, Carl Ludwig.
When he died in 1896, Franz Ferdinand became the new heir to the throne.

Sophie von Chotkovato 

After attending the official reception at the City Hall, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie von Chotkovato were driven through the city.
Gavrilo Princip, the assassin, stepped forward, drew his gun, and at a distance of about five feet, fired several times into the car.
Franz Ferdinand was hit in the neck and Sophie von Chotkovato in the abdomen. Princip’s bullet had pierced the archduke’s jugular vein but before losing consciousness, he pleaded “Sophie dear! Sophie dear! Don’t die! Stay alive for our children!” Franz Urban drove the royal couple to Konak, the governor’s residence, but although both were still alive when they arrived, they died from their wounds soon afterwards.


The political objective of the assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary’s south-Slav provinces so they could be combined into a Greater Serbia or a Yugoslavia.
The assassins’ motives were consistent with the movement that later became known as ‘Young Bosnia’. Serbian military officers stood behind the attack.
At the top of these Serbian military conspirators was Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence, Dragutin Dimitrijević, his righthand man Major Vojislav Tankosić, and Masterspy Rade Malobabić. Major Tankosić armed (with bombs and pistols) and trained the assassins, and the assassins were given access to the same clandestine tunnel of safe-houses and agents that Rade Malobabić used for the infiltration of weapons and operatives into Austria-Hungary.
The assassins, the key members of the clandestine tunnel, and the key Serbian military conspirators who were still alive were arrested, tried, convicted and punished.
Those who were arrested in Bosnia were tried in Sarajevo in October 1914.
The other conspirators were arrested and tried before a Serbian kangaroo court on the French-controlled Salonika Front in 1916–1917 on unrelated false charges; Serbia executed three of the top military conspirators.
Much of what is known about the assassinations comes from these two trials and related records.
Assignment of responsibility for the bombing and murders of 28 June is highly controversial because the attack led to the outbreak of World War I one month later.

Consequences
The murder of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife produced widespread shock across Europe, and there was initially much sympathy for the Austrian position.
Within two days of the assassination, Austria-Hungary and Germany advised Serbia that it should open an investigation, but Secretary General to the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Slavko Gruic, replied “Nothing had been done so far and the matter did not concern the Serbian Government.”
An angry exchange followed between the Austrian Chargé d’Affaires at Belgrade and Gruic.
After conducting a criminal investigation, verifying that Germany would honor its military alliance, and persuading the skeptical Hungarian Count Tisza, Austria-Hungary issued a formal letter to the government of Serbia.


Serbia was a state in the Balkans that came into existence as a result of the Serbian Revolution which lasted between 1804 and 1817. Despite serious and extremely brutal oppression and revenge by the Ottoman authorities, the revolutionary leaders, first Karađorđe Petrović and then Miloš Obrenović I, succeeded in their goal to liberate Serbia after centuries of Ottoman rule.

The letter reminded Serbia of its commitment to respect the Great Powers’ decision regarding Bosnia-Herzegovina, and to maintain good neighborly relations with Austria-Hungary.
The letter contained specific demands aimed at preventing the publication of propaganda advocating the violent destruction of Austria-Hungary, removing the people behind this propaganda from the Serbian Military, arresting the people on Serbian soil who were involved in the assassination plot and preventing the clandestine shipment of arms and explosives from Serbia to Austria-Hungary.
This letter became known as the ‘July Ultimatum’, and Austria-Hungary stated that if Serbia did not accept all of the demands in total within 48 hours, it would recall its ambassador from Serbia.
After receiving a telegram of support from Russia, Serbia mobilized its army and responded to the letter by completely accepting point #8 demanding an end to the smuggling of weapons and punishment of the frontier officers who had assisted the assassins and completely accepting point #10 which demanded Serbia report the execution of the required measures as they were completed.
Serbia partially accepted, finessed, disingenuously answered or politely rejected elements of the preamble and enumerated demands #1–7 and #9.
The shortcomings of Serbia’s response were published by Austria-Hungary and can be seen beginning on page 364 of Origins of the War, Vol. II by Albertini, with the Austrian complaints placed side-by-side against Serbia’s response.
Austria-Hungary responded by breaking diplomatic relations.
The next day, Serbian reservists being transported on tramp steamers on the Danube crossed onto the Austro-Hungarian side of the river at Temes-Kubin and Austro-Hungarian soldiers fired into the air to warn them off.
The report of this incident was initially sketchy and reported to Emperor Franz-Joseph as “a considerable skirmish”.
Austria-Hungary then declared war and mobilized the portion of its army that would face the (already mobilized) Serbian Army on 28 July 1914.
Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand von Österreich
Under the Secret Treaty of 1892 Russia and France were obliged to mobilize their armies if any of the Triple Alliance mobilized.
Russia’s mobilization set off full Austro-Hungarian and German mobilizations.
Soon all the Great Powers except Italy had chosen sides and gone to war.
A review of the consequences of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria shows that it was the initial actions of the Serbian Government (see above – Serbian military officers stood behind the attack – probably members of the Black Hand – an organisation  formed on 6 September 1901 by members of the Serbian Army).

Dragutin Dimitrijević Apis (right) and his associates
Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence Dragutin Dimitrijević Apis stated that he had organized the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 –
(the assassin was Гаврило Принцип – (Gavrilo Princip) – who was an athiest. 

Гаврило Принцип – (Gavrilo Princip)
Gavrilo Princip was born in the remote village of Obljaj near Bosansko Grahovo, at the time de jure part of Bosnia Vilayet within the Ottoman Empire, however the province had since 1878 been occupied by Austria-Hungary which governed it as its condominium, a de facto part of Austria-Hungary. Princip was too young to receive the death penalty, being only twenty-seven days short of his twentieth birthday at the time of the assassination. Instead, he received the maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. He was held in harsh conditions which were worsened by the war. He contracted tuberculosis,[3] and had one of his arms amputated in 1917 when the disease infected an arm bone (probably because of a badly performed procedure to repair a bone broken during his capture).[10] He died on 28 April 1918 at Terezín 3 years and 10 months after he assassinated the Archduke and Duchess. At the time of his death, Princip weighed around 40 kilograms (88 lb), weakened by malnutrition, blood loss from his amputated arm, and disease.
His politics are unclear. Some of his associates were Muslims. ).
– in the process, Dragutin Dimitrijević Apis used not only his power over elements of the Serbian military, but also the Black Hand.

Dragutin Dimitrijević was born in Belgrade in 1876. At sixteen Dimitrijević went to the Belgrade Military Academy. A brilliant student, Dimitrijević was recruited into the General Staff of the Serbian Army immediately after his graduation.
Captain Dimitrijević and a group of junior officers planned the assassination of the autocratic and unpopular king of Serbia. On 11 June 1903, the group stormed the royal palace and killed both King Alexander and his wife Queen Draga. During the attack Dimitrijević was badly wounded, and, although he eventually recovered, the three bullets from the encounter were never removed from his body. When Dimitrijević heard that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was planning to visit Sarajevo in June 1914, he sent three members of the Young Bosnia group, Gavrilo Princip, Nedeljko Čabrinović, Trifko Grabež and four others from Serbia to assassinate him. At this time, Dimitrijević was Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence.

Leaders of the Black Hand in turn had penetrated Narodna Obrana and used the Narodna organization to infiltrate the arms and assassins into Sarajevo.
So it can be categorically stated that responsibility for the ‘Great War’ lies with the actions of the Serbian Government.
Subsequently Serbian reservists were mobilized and moved into Austro-Hungarian territory.
In response to this invasion of their territory (combined with the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne by agents of the Serbian military, Austria-Hungary, in justified self-defense, declared war on Serbia.
Russia then mobilised in order to attack Austria.
Realising that Russian mobilisation threatened their Eastern borders, German mobilised against Russia, and Russia’s ally, France.
To prempt a French invasion of their Western borders, Germany, in accordance with the revised Schlieffen plan, sent her armies through Belgium.
In accordance with her treat obligations with regard to Belgium, Great Britain declared war on Germany.
REFLECTIONS

Bismarck’s emphasis on military force amplified the voice of the officer corps, which combined advanced modernization of military technology with reactionary politics.
The rising upper-middle-class elites, in the business, financial, and professional worlds, tended to accept the values of the old traditional elites.
The German Empire was a strange mixture of highly successful capitalist industrialization and socio-economic modernization on the one hand, and of surviving pre-industrial institutions, power relations and traditional cultures on the other, which produced a high degree of internal tension, which led on the one hand to the suppression of socialists, Catholics, and reformers, and on the other hand to a highly aggressive foreign policy.

The origins of Germany’s path to disaster lie in the 1860s–1870s, when economic modernization took place, but political modernization did not happen and the old Prussian rural elite remained in firm control of the army, diplomacy and the civil service.
The historiographical concept of a German Sonderweg has had a turbulent history.
Nineteenth century scholars, who emphasized a separate German path to modernity, saw it as a positive factor that differentiated Germany from the “western path” typified by Great Britain.
They stressed the strong bureaucratic state, reforms initiated by Bismarck and other strong leaders, the Prussian service ethos, the high culture of philosophy and music, and Germany’s pioneering of a social welfare state.
Traditional, aristocratic, pre-modern society battled an emerging capitalist, bourgeois, modernizing society. Recognizing the importance of modernizing forces in industry and the economy and in the cultural realm,  reactionary traditionalism dominated the political hierarchy of power in Germany, as well as social mentalities and in class relations (Klassenhabitus).
The catastrophic German politics between 1914 and 1918 may be interpreted in terms of a delayed modernization of its political structures.

Der letzte deutsche Kaiser – The Last German Emperor


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

‘THE LAST GERMAN EMPEROR’

It was just past 6.15 pm on the 22nd January 1901 in the ornate bedroom of a large Italianate mansion by the sea.

The old lady’s family surrounded as her shallow breathing became weaker.
Her favorite grandson cradled the sweet old lady in his arms. 

Finally the dying woman breathed her last, and the devoted and distraught grandson gently closed the old lady’s eyes.

The Queen-Empress, Victoria, ruler of the greatest empire in the world, had ended her long and eventful reign in her bedroom in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
Seventeen years later crowds were demanding the hanging, or even ‘boiling alive in oil’ of the devoted grandson, whose name was Wilhelm – Kaiser Wilhelm  – the Last German Emperor.
So what had happened in the intervening years.


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

Kaiser is the German title meaning “Emperor”.
Kaisar-i-Hind
Imperial State Crown of India
Julius Ceasar

Like the Russian ‘царь’ (Czar)  it is directly derived from the Roman Emperors’ title of ‘Caesar’, which in turn is derived from the personal name of a branch of the gens (clan) Julia, to which Gaius Julius Caesar, the forebear of the first imperial family, belonged.

Although the British monarchs styled “Emperor of India” were also called “Kaisar-i-Hind” in Hindi and Urdu, this word, although ultimately sharing the same Latin origin, is derived from the Greek ‘Kaisar’, not the German Kaiser.
In English, the term the ‘Kaiser’ is usually reserved for the Emperors of the German Empire, the emperors of the Austrian Empire and those of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
It is important to note that during the First World War, the term the ‘Kaiser’ – especially as applied to Wilhelm II of Germany — gained considerable pejorative connotations in English-speaking countries.

Wappen des Heiligen Römischen Reiches
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

The ‘Holy Roman Emperors’ (962–1806) called themselves ‘Kaiser’, combining the imperial title with that of Roman King (assumed by the designated heir before the imperial coronation); they saw their rule as a continuation of that of the Roman Emperors and used the title derived from the title Caesar to reflect their supposed heritage.
The rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1804–1918) were drawn from the Habsburg dynasty, who, after 1438, provided most of Holy Roman Emperors.
The Austrian-Hungarian rulers adopted the title ‘Kaiser’.

Kaiserkrone des Heiligen Römischen Reiches
Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire

There were only three ‘Kaisers’ of the Austrian Empire, the successor empire to the ‘Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation’ (Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation), and they have all belonged to the Habsburg dynasty.
The successor empire to the Austrian Empire was termed the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which had only two ‘Kaisers’, both again from the Habsburg dynasty.
In 1871, there was much debate about the exact title for the monarch of those German territories (such as free imperial cities, principalities, duchies, and kingdoms) that agreed to unify under the leadership of Prussia, thereby forming the German Empire.
‘Deutscher Kaiser’ (“German Emperor”) was chosen over alternatives such as ‘Kaiser von Deutschland’ (“Emperor of Germany”), or ‘Kaiser der Deutschen’ (“Emperor of the Germans”), as the chosen title simply connoted that the new emperor, hearkening from Prussia, was a German, but did not imply that this new emperor had dominion over all German territories.
There were only three Kaisers of ‘das Zweite Reich’ (the Second German Empire).
All of them belonged to the ‘Hohenzollern’ dynasty, which, as kings of Prussia, had been de facto leaders of lesser Germany.

Wappen des Hauses Hohenzollern
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near Hechingen.
The family uses the motto Nihil Sine Deo (English: Nothing Without God). The family coat of arms, first adopted in 1192, began as a simple shield quarterly sable and argent. A century later, in 1317, Frederick IV, Burgrave of Nuremberg, added the head and shoulders of a hound as a crest. Later quartering reflected heiresses’ marriages into the family.

Burg Hohenzollern – Hechingen

The family split into two branches, the Catholic Swabian branch and the Protestant Franconian branch, known also as the Kirschner line. The Swabian branch ruled the area of Hechingen until the revolution of 1848/49. The Franconian branch was more successful: members of the Franconian branch became Margrave of Brandenburg in 1415 and Duke of Prussia in 1525. Following the union of these two Franconian lines in 1618, the Kingdom of Prussia was created in 1701, eventually leading to the unification of Germany and the creation of the German Empire in 1871.
Social unrest at the end of World War I led to the German Revolution of 1918, with the formation of the Weimar Republic forcing the Hohenzollerns to abdicate, thus bringing an end to the modern German monarchy. The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 set the final terms for the dismantling of the German Empire.

In English the (untranslated) word ‘Kaiser’ is mainly associated with the emperors of the unified German Empire (1871–1918), in particular with Kaiser Wilhelm II.
In 1806 the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved, but the title of ‘Kaiser’ was retained by the House of Habsburg, the head of which, beginning in 1804, bore the title of Emperor (Kaiser) of Austria.

Wappen der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie
Greater Coat of Arms of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

Kaisers of the Austrian Empire (1804–1867) and of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918) were:

Franz I (1804–1835)
Ferdinand I (1835–1848)
Franz Joseph I (1848–1916)
Karl I (1916–1918)



Wappen des Zweiten Deutsch Reich
Greater Arms of the German Empire
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012


Kaisers of the German Empire (1871–1918) were:

Wilhelm I (1871–1888);
Frederick III (9 March-15 June 1888), who ruled for 99 days;
Wilhelm II (1888–1918), during whose reign the monarchy in Germany ended near the end of World War I
.
Georg Friedrich Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia, is currently head of the House of Hohenzollern, which was the former ruling dynasty of the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Karl von Habsburg is currently the head of the House of Habsburg.





Proklamation des Deutschen Reiches – Versailles – Frankreich

Deutscher Kaiser – (the German Emperor) was the official title of the Head of State and ruler of the German Empire, beginning with the proclamation of William I as Emperor during the Franco-Prussian War, on 18 January 1871 at the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris in France, and ending with the official abdication of William II on 18 November 1918, at the end of the First World War.

The title ‘Deutscher Kaiser’ (German Emperor) was carefully chosen by Otto von Bismarck after discussion until (and after) the day of the proclamation.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

William I of Prussia accepted this title grudgingly as he would have preferred “Emperor of Germany” which was however, unacceptable to the federated monarchs, and would also have signalled a claim to lands outside of his reign (Austria, Swiss Confederation, Luxembourg etc.). The title Emperor of the Germans, as proposed in 1848, was ruled out as he considered himself chosen ‘durch die Gnade Gottes’ (By the Grace of God), not by the people as in a democracy.
By this ceremony, the ‘Norddeutscher Bund’ (North German Confederation) was transformed into the ‘Deutsches Kaiserreich’ (German Empire).
This empire was a federal monarchy; the emperor was head of state and president of the federated monarchs (die Könige (the Kings) of Bayern, Württemberg, Sachsen, die Großherzöge of Baden, Mecklenburg, Hesse, as well as other principalities, duchies and of the free cities of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen).

Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen
Kaiser Wilhelm I

Wilhelm I (Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig, 22 March 1797 – 9 March 1888), of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King of Prussia (2 January 1861 – 9 March 1888) and the first German Emperor (18 January 1871 – 9 March 1888).
Under the leadership of Wilhelm and his Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire.

In his memoirs, Bismarck describes Wilhelm as an old-fashioned, courteous, infallibly polite gentleman, and a genuine Prussian officer, whose good common sense was occasionally undermined by “female influences”.

In 1829, Wilhelm married Augusta of Saxe-Weimar and had two children:
Frederick III, German Emperor (1831–1888) and
Princess Louise of Prussia (1838–1923)





TITLES

His Imperial and Royal Majesty William the First, by the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia; Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern; sovereign and supreme Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz; Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen; Duke of Saxony, of Westphalia, of Angria, of Pomerania, Lunenburg, Holstein and Schleswig, of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelders, Cleves, Jülich and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kassubes, of Crossen, Lauenburg and Mecklenburg; Landgrave of Hesse and Thuringia; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia; Prince of Orange; Prince of Rügen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and Pyrmont, of Halberstadt, Münster, Minden, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, of Verden, Cammin, Fulda, Nassau and Moers; Princely Count of Henneberg; Count of Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, Tecklenburg and Lingen, of Mansfeld, Sigmaringen and Veringen; Lord of Frankfurt.

Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen
Friedrich III – 

Friedrich III, Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen; (18 October 1831 – 15 June 1888) was German Emperor and King of Prussia for 99 days in 1888, the ‘Year of the Three Emperors’. Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl, known informally as Fritz, was the only son of Emperor William I and was raised in his family’s tradition of military service.
Following the unification of Germany in 1871 his father, then King of Prussia, became the German Emperor.
On William’s death at the age of 90 on 9 March 1888, the throne passed to Frederick, who had by then been Crown Prince for 27 years.
Frederick was suffering from cancer of the larynx when he died on 15 June 1888, aged 56, following unsuccessful medical treatments for his condition.
Frederick married Princess Victoria, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. The couple were well matched; their shared liberal ideology led them to seek greater representation for commoners in the government.

Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum – Potsdam – Berlin

Frederick, in spite of his conservative militaristic family background, had developed liberal tendencies as a result of his ties with Britain, and his studies at the University of Bonn.
As the Crown Prince, he often opposed the conservative Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, particularly in speaking out against Bismarck’s policy of uniting Germany through force, and in urging that the power of the Chancellorship be curbed.
Liberals in both Germany and Britain hoped that as emperor, Frederick III would move to liberalize the German Empire.
However, Frederick reigned for only 99 days.



___________________________________

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

THE LAST GERMAN KAISER

Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen
Kaiser Wilhelm II

Wilhelm II (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht; 27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941) was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918.
He was a grandson of the British Queen-Empress Victoria, and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe.
Crowned in 1888, he dismissed the Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, in 1890 and launched Germany on a  “New Course” in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of July 1914 that contributed to conflict of the First World War.
An ineffective war leader, he lost the support of the army, abdicated in November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands.



EARLY LIFE

Wilhelm was born on 27 January 1859 at the Crown Prince’s Palace in Berlin to Prince Frederick William of Prussia (the future Frederick III) and his wife, Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom.
He was the first grandchild of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, but more importantly, as the first son of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Wilhelm was (from 1861) the second in the line of succession to Prussia, and also, after 1871, to the German Empire, which, according to the constitution of the German Empire, was ruled by the Prussian King.
He was related to many royal figures across Europe.
A traumatic breech birth left him with a withered left arm due to Erb’s palsy, making his left arm about 6 inches (15 centimeters) shorter than his right arm, which he tried with some success to conceal.

Kaiser Wilhelm II
Wilhelm

Erb’s palsy or Erb–Duchenne palsy is a paralysis of the arm caused by injury to the upper group of the arm’s main nerves, specifically the severing of the upper trunk C5–C6 nerves. These form part of the brachial plexus, comprising the ventral rami of spinal nerves C5–C8 and thoracic nerve T1. These injuries arise most commonly, but not exclusively, from shoulder dystocia during a difficult birth. Depending on the nature of the damage, the paralysis can either resolve on its own over a period of months, necessitate rehabilitative therapy, or require surgery.





Georg Hinzpeter

In many photos he carries a pair of white gloves in his left hand to make the arm seem longer, holds his left hand with his right, or has his crippled arm on the hilt of a sword or holding a cane to give the effect of a useful limb posed at a dignified angle.
Wilhelm, from six years of age, was tutored and heavily influenced by the 39-year old teacher Georg Hinzpeter.

Wilhelm – Teenager

As a teenager he was educated at Kassel at the Friedrichsgymnasium, and the University of Bonn, where he became a member of Corps Borussia Bonn.
As a scion of the Royal house of Hohenzollern, Wilhelm was exposed from an early age to the military society of the Prussian aristocracy.

Friedrichsgymnasium – Kassel

This had a major impact on him and, in maturity, Wilhelm was seldom seen out of uniform.
The military culture of Prussia in this period did much to frame his political ideals and personal relationships.
Crown Prince Frederick was viewed by his son with a deeply felt love and respect.
His father’s status as a hero of the wars of unification was largely responsible for the young Wilhelm’s attitude, as in the circumstances in which he was raised; close emotional contact between father and son was not encouraged.
Later, as he came into contact with the Crown Prince’s political opponents, Wilhelm came to adopt more ambivalent feelings toward his father, given the perceived influence of Wilhelm’s mother over a figure who should have been possessed of masculine independence and strength.

Wilhelm the Great
Otto von Bismark

Wilhelm also idolized his grandfather, Wilhelm I, and he was instrumental in later attempts to foster a cult of the first German Emperor as “Wilhelm the Great”.
In many ways, Wilhelm was a victim of his inheritance and of Otto von Bismarck’s machinations.
Both sides of his family had suffered from mental illness, and this may explain his emotional instability.
When Wilhelm was in his early twenties, Bismarck tried to separate him from his parents (who opposed Bismarck and his policies) with some success.
Bismarck planned to use the young prince as a weapon against his parents in order to retain his own political dominance.
Wilhelm thus developed a dysfunctional relationship with his parents, but especially with his English mother.

WILHELM as KAISER

Kaiser Frederick III

The German Emperor Wilhelm I died in Berlin on 9 March 1888, and Prince Wilhelm’s father was proclaimed Emperor as Frederick III.
He was already suffering from an incurable throat cancer, and spent all 99 days of his reign fighting the disease before dying.
On 15 June of that same year, his 29-year-old son succeeded him as German Emperor and King of Prussia.
Although in his youth he had been a great admirer of Otto von Bismarck, Wilhelm’s characteristic impatience soon brought him into conflict with the “Iron Chancellor“, the dominant figure in the foundation of his empire.

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative German statesman who dominated European affairs from the 1860s to his dismissal in 1890. After a series of short victorious wars he unified most of the German states (whilst excluding some, most notably Austria) into a powerful nation-state German Empire in 1871 under Prussian leadership, then created a “balance of power” that preserved peace in Europe from 1871 until 1914.

The new Emperor opposed Bismarck’s careful foreign policy, preferring vigorous and rapid expansion to protect Germany’s “place in the sun.”
Furthermore, the young Emperor had come to the throne with the determination that he was going to rule as well as reign, unlike his grandfather, who had largely been content to leave day-to-day administration to Bismarck.

Early conflicts between Wilhelm II and his chancellor soon poisoned the relationship between the two men.
Bismarck unwisely believed that Wilhelm was a lightweight, who could be dominated, and he showed scant respect for Wilhelm’s policies in the late 1880s.
The final split between monarch and statesman occurred soon after an attempt by Bismarck to implement a far-reaching anti-Socialist law in early 1890.
It was during this time that Bismarck, after gaining an absolute majority in favour of his policies in the Reichstag, decided to make the anti-Socialist laws permanent.
His Kartell, the majority of the amalgamated Conservative Party and the National Liberal Party, favoured making the laws permanent, with one exception: the police power to expel Socialist agitators from their homes.
This power had been used excessively at times against political opponents, and the National Liberal Party was unwilling to pass the expulsion clause in the first place.
Bismarck would not give his assent to a modified bill, so the Kartell split over this issue.
The Conservatives would support the bill only in its entirety and threatened to and eventually did veto the entire bill.
As the debate continued, Wilhelm became more and more interested in social problems, especially the treatment of mine workers who went on strike in 1889.
Following his policy of active participation in government, he routinely interrupted Bismarck in Council to make clear where he stood on social policy.
Bismarck sharply disagreed with Wilhelm’s policy and worked to circumvent it.
Even if Wilhelm supported the altered anti-Socialist bill, Bismarck pushed for his support to veto the bill in its entirety, but when Bismarck’s arguments failed to convince Wilhelm, the Chancellor (uncharacteristically) blurted out his motive for having the bill fail: he wanted the Socialists to agitate until a violent clash occurred, which could be used as a pretext to crush them.

Wilhelm replied that he would not open his reign with a bloody campaign against his subjects. 
The next day, after realising his blunder, Bismarck attempted to reach a compromise with Wilhelm by agreeing to his social policy towards industrial workers and even suggested a European council to discuss working conditions, presided over by the German Emperor.
Despite this, a turn of events eventually led to his distance from Wilhelm.
Bismarck, feeling pressured and unappreciated by the Emperor and undermined by ambitious advisors, refused to sign a proclamation regarding the protection of workers along with Wilhelm, as was required by the German Constitution, to protest Wilhelm’s ever-increasing interference with Bismarck’s previously unquestioned authority. Bismarck also worked behind the scenes to break the council that Wilhelm held so dear.
The final break came as Bismarck searched for a new parliamentary majority, with his Kartell voted from power due to the anti-Socialist bill fiasco.
The remaining powers in the Reichstag were the Catholic Centre Party and the Conservative Party.
Bismarck wished to form a new bloc with the Centre Party, and invited Ludwig Windthorst, the party’s parliamentary leader, to discuss a coalition.
Wilhelm was furious to hear about Windthorst’s visit.
In a parliamentary state, the head of government depends on the confidence of the parliamentary majority and has the right to form coalitions to ensure his policies a majority, but in Germany, the Chancellor had to depend on the confidence of the Emperor, and Wilhelm believed that the Emperor had the right to be informed before his ministers’ meeting.
After a heated argument at Bismarck’s estate over Imperial authority, Wilhelm stormed out. Bismarck, forced for the first time into a situation he could not use to his advantage, wrote a blistering letter of resignation, decrying Wilhelm’s interference in foreign and domestic policy, which was published only after Bismarck’s death.
When Bismarck realised that his dismissal was imminent all his resources were deployed; he even asked Empress Victoria to use her influence at her son on his behalf.
But the wizard had lost his magic; his spells were powerless because they were exerted on people who did not respect them, and he who had so signally disregarded Kant’s command to use people as ends in themselves had too small a stock of loyalty to draw on.
Although Bismarck had sponsored landmark social security legislation, by 1889–90, he had become disillusioned with the attitude of workers.
In particular, he was opposed to wage increases, improving working conditions, and regulating labour relations.

Reischstag – Berlin

Moreover the Kartell, the shifting political coalition that Bismarck had been able to forge since 1867, had lost a working majority in the Reichstag.
Bismarck also attempted to sabotage the council that the Kaiser was organising.
In March 1890, the dismissal of Bismarck coincided with the Kaiser’s opening of the Labour Conference in Berlin.
Subsequently, at the opening of the Reichstag on 6 May 1890, the Kaiser stated that the most pressing issue was the further enlargement of the bill concerning the protection of the labourer.
In 1891, the Reichstag passed the Workers Protection Acts, which improved working conditions, protected women and children and regulated labour relations.

DISMISSAL of BISMARK

Graf Leopold von Caprivi 
Dismissal of Bismark
Bismarck resigned at Wilhelm II’s insistence in 1890, at the age of 75, to be succeeded as Chancellor of Germany and Minister-President of Prussia by Leo von Caprivi, who in turn was replaced by Chlodwig, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, in 1894.

Georg Leo Graf von Caprivi de Caprera de Montecuccoli (Count George Leo of Caprivi, Caprera, and Montecuccoli, born Georg Leo von Caprivi; 24 February 1831 – 6 February 1899) was a German major general and statesman, who succeeded Otto von Bismarck as Chancellor of Germany. Caprivi served as German Chancellor from March 1890 to October 1894. As part of Kaiser Wilhelm’s “Neuer Kurs” in foreign policy, Caprivi abandoned Bismarck’s military, economic, and ideological cooperation with Russia, and was unable to forge a close relationship with Britain. He negotiated commercial treaties and emphasized the reorganization of the German military.

Chlodwig Carl Viktor, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, Prince of Ratibor and Corvey (German: Fürst zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, Fürst von Ratibor und Corvey) (31 March 1819 – 6 July 1901), usually referred to as the Prince of Hohenlohe, was a German statesman, who served as Chancellor of Germany and Prime Minister of Prussia from 1894 to 1900. Prior to his appointment as Chancellor, he had served in a number of other positions, including as Prime Minister of Bavaria (1866–1870), German Ambassador to Paris (1873–1880), Foreign Secretary (1880) and Imperial Lieutenant of Alsace-Lorraine (1885–1894). He was regarded as one of the most prominent liberal politicians of his time in Germany.

 Fürst Hohenlohe
Following the dismissal of Hohenlohe in 1900, Wilhelm appointed the man whom he regarded as “his own Bismarck“, Bernhard von Bülow.

Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow (May 3, 1849 – October 28, 1929), named in 1905 Prince (Fürst) von Bülow, was a German statesman who served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for three years and then as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1900 to 1909.

Bernhard von Bülow

Bülow reserved his mornings for Wilhelm, who would visit the chancellery every morning when in Berlin. His determination to remain on Wilhelm’s good side was remarkable, even for those accustomed to Wilhelm’s manner. Wilhelm’s household controller noted, “Whenever, by oversight, he expresses an opinion in disagreement with the emperor, he remains silent for a few moments and then says the exact contrary, with the preface, ‘as Your Majesty so wisely remarked'”. He gave up tobacco, beer, coffee and liqueurs and took 35 minutes of exercise every morning and would ride in good weather through the Tiergarten. Sundays he would take long walks in the woods. In 1905, aged 56, he led his old Hussars regiment at the gallop in a parade for Wilhelm and was rewarded by an appointment to the rank of major general. Wilhelm remarked to Eulenburg in 1901, “Since I have Bülow I can sleep peacefully“.
His first conspicuous act as chancellor was a masterly defense in the Reichstag of German imperialism in China. 

In foreign policy Bismarck had achieved a fragile balance of interests between Germany, France and Russia – peace was at hand and Bismarck tried to keep it that way despite growing popular sentiment against Britain (regarding colonies), and especially against Russia.
With Bismarck’s dismissal the Russians now expected a reversal of policy in Berlin, so they quickly came to terms with France, beginning the process that by 1914 largely isolated Germany.
In appointing Caprivi and then Hohenlohe, Wilhelm was embarking upon what is known to history as “the New Course“, in which he hoped to exert decisive influence in the government of the empire.

Inauguration of the Reichstag (December 5, 1894)

There is debate among historians as to the precise degree to which Wilhelm succeeded in implementing “personal rule” in this era, but what is clear is the very different dynamic which existed between the Crown and its chief political servant (the Chancellor) in the “Wilhelmine Era”.
These chancellors were senior civil servants, and not seasoned politician-statesmen like Bismarck.
Wilhelm wanted to preclude the emergence of another ‘Iron Chancellor’, whom he ultimately detested as being “a boorish old killjoy” who had not permitted any minister to see the Emperor except in his presence, keeping a stranglehold on effective political power.
Upon his enforced retirement and until his dying day, Bismarck was to become a bitter critic of Wilhelm’s policies, but without the support of the supreme arbiter of all political appointments (the Emperor) there was little chance of Bismarck exerting a decisive influence on policy.
Something which Bismarck was able to effect was the creation of the “Bismarck myth“.

Bethmann Hollweg
Alfred Thayer Mahan

This was a view – which some would argue was confirmed by subsequent events – that, with the dismissal of the Iron Chancellor, Wilhelm II effectively weakened any chance Germany had of stable and effective government.
In the early twentieth century Wilhelm began to concentrate upon his real agenda; the creation of a German navy that would rival that of Britain and enable Germany to declare itself a world power.
He ordered his military leaders to read Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan’s book, ‘The Influence of Sea Power upon History’, and spent hours drawing sketches of the ships that he wanted built.
Bülow and Bethmann Hollweg, his loyal chancellors, looked after domestic affairs, and Wilhelm began to spread disuiet in the chancelleries of Europe with his increasingly eccentric views on foreign affairs.

Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg (29 November 1856 – 1 January 1921) was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1909 to 1917.

In foreign policy, he pursued a policy of détente with Britain, hoping to come to some agreement that would put a halt to the two countries’ ruinous naval arms race, but failed, largely due to the opposition of German Naval Minister Alfred von Tirpitz. Despite the increase in tensions due to the Second Moroccan Crisis of 1911, Bethmann Hollweg did improve relations with Britain to some extent, working with British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey to alleviate tensions during the Balkan Crises of 1912-1913, and negotiating treaties over an eventual partition of the Portuguese colonies and the Berlin-Baghdad railway. 
Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, Bethmann Hollweg and Foreign Secretary Gottlieb von Jagow were instrumental in assuring Austria of Germany’s unconditional support regardless of Austria’s actions against Serbia.
In the last days before the outbreak of war, once it became clear that, should war break out, British involvement was inevitable, he appeared to have some second thoughts, and he took half-hearted measures to prevent an all out war, until Russia’s mobilization on 31 July 1914, took the matter out of his hands.


HOUSTON STEWART CHAMBERLAIN – MENTOR TO THE KAISER

Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Eva Wagner Chamberlain

With Bismark long gone, Wilhelm needed a new source of inspiration for his ideology, and that person was to be found in the person of Houston Stewart Chamberlain.

Houston Stewart Chamberlain (September 9, 1855 – January 9, 1927) was a British-born German author of books on political philosophy, natural science and Richard Wagner.
Chamberlain married the composer’s daughter, Eva, some years after Wagner’s death.
His two-volume book, ‘Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts’ (The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century), published in 1899, became one of the many references for the pan-Germanic movement of the early 20th century, and, later, of the völkisch philosophy of racial superiority.

Houston Stewart Chamberlain

Chamberlain’s education began in a Lycée at Versailles and most of his education occurred on the continent, but his father had planned a military career for his son and at the age of eleven he was sent to Cheltenham College, an English boarding school which produced many army and navy officers.
The young Chamberlain was “a compulsive dreamer” more interested in the arts than the military, and he developed a fondness for nature and a near-mystical sense of self.
The prospect of serving as an officer in India or elsewhere in the British Empire held no attraction for him. In addition, he was a delicate child with poor health.
At the age of fourteen he had to be withdrawn from school.
He then traveled to various spas around Europe, accompanied by a Prussian tutor, Herr Otto Kuntze, who taught him German and interested him in German culture and history.

Richard Wagner

Chamberlain then went to Geneva, where he studied under Carl Vogt, (a supporter of racial typology at the University of Geneva) Graebe, Müller Argoviensis, Thury, Plantamour, and other professors.
He studied systematicbotany, geology, astronomy, and later the anatomy and physiology of the human body.
Thereafter he settled at Dresden, where “he plunged heart and soul into the mysterious depths of Wagnerian music and philosophy, themetaphysical works of the Master probably exercising as strong an influence upon him as the musical dramas.
Chamberlain was immersed in philosophical writings, and became a Völkisch author, one of those who were concerned more with art, culture, civilization and spirit than with quantitative physical distinctions between groups.
This is evidenced by his huge treatise on Immanuel Kant with its comparisons.

Friedrich Nietzsche

His knowledge of Friedrich Nietzsche is demonstrated in that work (p. 183) and ‘Foundations’ (p. 153n).

Arthur de Gobineau

By this time Chamberlain had met his first wife, the Prussian Anna Horst, whom he was to divorce in 1905.
In 1889 he moved to Austria.
During this time it is said his ideas on race began taking shape, influenced by the concept of Teutonic supremacy embodied in the works of Wagner and Arthur de Gobineau.
Chamberlain had attended Wagner’s Bayreuth Festival in 1882 and struck up a close correspondence with his wife Cosima.
In 1908 he married Eva Wagner, the composer’s daughter, and the next year he moved to Germany and became an important member of the “Bayreuth Circle” of German nationalist intellectuals.
Houston Stewart Chamberlain was born in Southsea, Hampshire, England, the son of Rear Admiral William Charles Chamberlain, RN.
His mother, Eliza Jane, daughter of Captain Basil Hall, RN, died before he was a year old, and he was raised by his grandmother in France.

‘Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts’

‘Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts’

In 1899 Chamberlain wrote his most important work, ‘Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts’ – ‘The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century’, – in German.

‘Die Grundlagen’  (1899) was the best-selling work by Houston Stewart Chamberlain. In it he advances various racist and especially völkisch anti-Semitic theories on how he saw the Aryan race as superior to others, and the Teutonic peoples as a positive force in European civilization and the Jews as a negative one.
Chamberlain was a Germanophile who adopted German citizenship, and wrote most of his works in German (on numerous subjects, from biographies to biology).
Published in German, the book focuses on the controversial notion that Western civilization is deeply marked by the influence of the Teutonic peoples.
Chamberlain grouped all European peoples – not just Germans, but Celts, Slavs, Greeks, and Latins – into the “Aryan race”, a race built on the ancient Proto-Indo-European culture.
At the helm of the Aryan race, and, indeed, all races, were the Nordic or Teutonic peoples.
Certain anthropologists would fain teach us that all races are equally gifted; we point to history and answer: that is a lie !
The races of mankind are markedly different in the nature and also in the extent of their gifts, and the Germanic races belong to the most highly gifted group, the group usually termed Aryan… Physically and mentally the Aryans are pre-eminent among all peoples; for that reason they are by right … the lords of the world.”
Chamberlain’s book focused on the claim that the Teutonic peoples were the heirs to the empires of Greece and Rome, something which Charlemagne and some of his successors also believed.
He argued that when the Germanic tribes destroyed the Roman Empire, Jews and other non-Europeans already dominated it.
The Germans, therefore, saved Western civilization from Semitic domination.
Chamberlain’s thoughts were influenced by the writings of Arthur de Gobineau – (right) – who had argued the superiority of the “Aryan race“.
 Houston Stewart Chamberlain

‘Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts’ was published in 1900, and it was through the publication of the book that Wilhelm beacame familiar with Chamberlain’s thinking.

Wilhelm II first met Houston Stewart Chamberlain in 1901.
Kaiser Wilhelm II patronized Chamberlain, maintaining a correspondence, inviting him to stay on many occasions at his court, distributing copies of ‘Die Grundlagenamong’ the German army, and seeing that ‘Die Grundlagen’ was carried in German libraries and included in the school curricula.
‘Die Grundlagen’ would prove to be a seminal work in German nationalism; due to its success, aided by Chamberlain’s association with the Wagner circle, its ideas of Aryan supremacy and a struggle against Jewish influence spread widely across the German state at the beginning of the century.

PROMOTER of the ARTS and SCIENCES

Wilhelm II enthusiastically promoted the arts and sciences, as well as public education and social welfare.
He sponsored the ‘Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschafte’ (Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science) for the promotion of scientific research; it was funded by wealthy private donors and by the state and comprised a number of research institutes in both pure and applied sciences.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science (German Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften) was a German scientific institution established in the German Kaiserreich in 1911. During the Third Reich it was involved in scientific operations, and after the Second World War was wound up, its functions being taken over by the Max Planck Society. The Kaiser Wilhelm Society was an umbrella organization for many institutes, testing stations, and research units spawned under its authority.

Protector of the Order of Saint John

The Prussian Academy of Sciences was unable to avoid the Kaiser’s pressure and lost some of its autonomy when it was forced to incorporate new programs in engineering, and award new fellowships in engineering sciences as a result of a gift from the Kaiser in 1900.
Wilhelm II supported the modernisers, as they tried to reform the Prussian system of secondary education, which was rigidly traditional, elitist, politically authoritarian, and unchanged by the progress in the natural sciences.
As hereditary ‘Protector of the Order of Saint John’, he offered encouragement to the Christian order’s attempts to place German medicine at the forefront of modern medical practice through its system of hospitals, nursing sisterhood and nursing schools, and nursing homes throughout the German Empire.
Wilhelm continued as Protector of the Order even after 1918, as the position was in essence attached to the head of the House of Hohenzollern.

PERSONALITY

Historians have frequently stressed the role of Wilhelm’s personality in shaping his reign.
Wilhelm II
Kaiserin Frederick

Gifted, with a quick understanding, sometimes brilliant, with a taste for the modern,- technology, industry, science – but at the same time hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, desperate for applause and success, – as Bismarck said early on in his life, he wanted every day to be his birthday – romantic, sentimental and theatrical, unsure and arrogant, with an immeasurably exaggerated self-confidence and desire to show off, – he had a pathological love-hate against his English mother.

In addition Wilhelm had an unresolved love-hate relationship with Britain.
From the outset, it should be remembered that the half-German side of him was at war with the half-English side.
He was wildly jealous of the British, wanting to be British,and yet wanting to be better at being British than the British were, while at the same time hating them and resenting them because he never could be fully accepted by them.
Like many Germans of this period he believed in force, and the ‘survival of the fittest’ in domestic as well as foreign politics.
William was not lacking in intelligence, but he did lack stability, disguising his deep insecurities by swagger and tough talk.
He frequently fell into depressions and was mildly bi-polar.

The Kaiser lived, like all his predecessors, in the ‘Stadtschloss Palace’ in Berlin.

Potsdamer Stadtschloss

The Potsdam City Palace (German: Potsdamer Stadtschloss) was a historical building in Potsdam, Germany. It was the second official residence (the winter residence) of the Margraves and electors of Brandenburg, later kings in Prussia, kings of Prussia and German emperors. It stood on the Old Market in Potsdam, next to the Church of St. Nicholas (Nikolaikirche) and the Old Townhall.

Wilhelm in Admiral’s Uniform



The baroque palace was constructed on the site of an earlier fortification from 1662 to 1669 under Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm, and was rebuilt by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff under Friedrich II from 1744 to 1752, who performed additional interior decoration. It stood as one of the most important examples of Frederician Rococo.

In the summer, he is used to spend his vacations near the Norwegian coasts on one of his private yachts.
He was very fond of appearing in  uniform (like wearing an admiral’s uniform while visiting an aquarium), and also loved to hunt stag in Prussian forests in company of his advisers.
Despite his arm malformation, he also loved to ride was was an accomplished horseman.

WILHELM – his ADVISERS and FRIENDS
Wilhelm’s entourage consisted mainly of two groups: military and the “camarilla”, the latter represented by Eulenburg and his ‘Liebenberg Circle’.

Philipp Fuerst von Eulenburg 

Philipp Fuerst von Eulenburg was born at Königsberg, Province of Prussia, the eldest son of Philipp Konrad Graf zu Eulenburg (Königsberg, 24 April 1820 – Berlin, 5 March 1889) and of his wife, Alexandrine Freiin von Rothkirch und Panthen (Glogau, 20 June 1824 – Meran, 11 April 1902). The Eulenburgs were a Junker family which belonged to the Uradel (ancient nobility). For generations the family had served the House of Hohenzollern; his uncle, Friedrich Albrecht zu Eulenburg served as Interior Minister of Prussia as did his cousin Botho zu Eulenburg.


Roughly said, both fulfilled the same function for Kaiser Wilhelm II, despite the inherent opposition (on the one side the masculine military, on the other side the art-oriented, intellectual, feminine Liebenberg Circle). They both assured him in his masculinity.
Wilhelm needed this because he had problems of self-esteem stemming from his childhood. deformity (see above).

Queen-Empress Victoria 
Kaiserin (Empress) Frederick 

This in itself would not have had such a great influence on Wilhelm’s psyche, since he learned how to cope with this disability.

What was worse than this was the way in which he learned to cope with it, and how his mother treated him.
His mother Victoria, daughter of Queen-Empress Victoria of England and married to crown prince Friedrich, the son of Kaiser Wilhelm I, came to Germany with great plans.
Together with her husband she wanted to transform the German monarchy to a liberal monarchy, such as the one already established in England.




Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

She wanted to bring up her son in the idealised image she had of her father, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

But when she became aware of Wilhelm’s disability to move his left arm, she felt that he would not be able to fulfil her great expectations.
Her first reaction was attempting to cure Wilhelm’s stunted arm, but when he made only slow efforts, she reacted with rejection of her son.
Wilhelm saw the different medical treatments he had to endure as tortures, and they helped their part to alienate him from his mother.
In the same way that she withdrew her love from him, he also began to hate her and placed the guilt for all of his suffering on her.
Kaiser Friedrich III 

Wilhelm’s father, Friedrich, left the upbringing of his children in the hands of his wife.

Although most of Wilhelm’s memories of his father were good, Friedrich and his son had no close relationship.
Despite this, Wilhelm glorified his father, but Friedrich’s presence in his son’s life was not strong enough to play a paternal role towards Wilhelm.
More than that, realising the fact that Victoria dominated Friedrich, Wilhelm had to put even more blame on his mother.
His longing to win back his father from his mother’s influence, a negative Oedipus-complex, when Vitoria undermined the position Wilhelm wanted his father to have, had a big influence for Wilhelm’s later entourage.
Dr. Georg Hinzpeter

Other men around the young Wilhelm were not able to fill the gap his father left, least of all his tutor Dr. Georg Hinzpeter, who by function would have been predestined for this role.

Hinzpeter was appointed Wilhelm’s tutor in 1866, when Victoria thought the boy needed a male person around him.
The tutor took his duties seriously and taught Wilhelm in a coldly rational and eventually brutal way.
It was impossible to satisfy Hinzpeter, who never gave encouraging words or praise, but always expected perfection: – an impossibility.
One of the most torturing experiences was when Wilhelm at the age of eight-and-a-half still could not ride because of his left arm.
Hinzpeter taught him to keep balance on the horse by ordering him to try it again without pause. It took some weeks, but finally Wilhelm could ride despite his disability.
Wilhelm later placed the blame for this poor treatment on his mother.
It is not possible to say to what extent Wilhelm’s psychological defects were inherited or the outcome of his childhood and youth, however, following the psychoanalytic model can give in this case at least some explanations for the behaviour Wilhelm showed in his later life.
The two main groups of Wilhelm’s entourage – the military and ‘Liebenberg Circle’ – were chosen subconsciously by the Kaiser because they helped him to deal with his problems.
Both of them served the purpose of male companionship and, as it is mentioned above, assured him in his masculinity.
Wilhelm preferred male companionship for different reasons.
It was on the one hand the outgrowth of his longing for a strong idealised father, and furthermore a result of the experiences Wilhelm made in his family life.
Männerbund

His father was dominated by his mother, and Wilhelm saw this as the reason for his father’s absence.

This finally led to a general aversion of women, and to the glorification of an all-male companionship – the “Männerbund“, clearly identifiable in both parts of Wilhelm’s entourage.
Symbolic of Wilhelm’s affection for the military is the fact that one of his first sentences was “Soldat ist ein schöner Mensch“.
German Soldiers Parading – Berlin

Soldiers gave Wilhelm a sense of stability and security.

The command of his troops gave him a sense of confidence and power.
When he was together with army generals, whom Wilhelm admired from his early childhood, Wilhelm vicariously participated in their masculine activities.
Through them, he tried to achieve a masculine identity.

Wilhelm II Gala Uniform
He could even feel more masculine than them, because they had to obey his orders.
Wilhelm’s love of uniform has to be seen in the same context: When wearing a uniform, Wilhelm could show that he was part of the army, once again proving he was as leader of the army more masculine than them.
The second way for Wilhelm to derive strength from his masculine entourage through their degradation.

General Dietrich von Hülsen-Haeseler
The most famous example of this occurred when General Dietrich von Hülsen-Haeseler, chief of the military cabinet, died of a heart attack in 1908, shortly after he had to dance in front of the Kaiser dressed as a ballerina.
The humiliation of honourable members of his military entourage allowed Wilhelm to feel as if he was the only sober person surrounded by tipsy and childish companions, and thus gained self-confidence.
The military assured Wilhelm in his masculinity because of its masculinity, while the ‘Liebenberg Circle’ assured Wilhelm in his masculinity because of its femininity.
Here, homo-eroticism plays a role as the circle was feminine due to the ‘passive-homosexual’ orientation of most of its members.
There is almost no doubt that Philipp Count zu Eulenburg-Hertefeld, the pivot of the ‘Liebenberg Circle’, was homosexual.
Eulenburg had heterosexual tendencies (he had a wife and eight children and was described as a “devoted father”), so that perhaps “bisexual” is a better term.
But Eulenburg’s homosexual side was stronger.
He enjoyed his family life only for a short time, and the only female person he was ever close to in his life was his mother.
The relationship to his male companions of the ‘Liebenberg Circle’ seems to have been by far stronger than any relationship to a female with the exception of his mother.

Kuno von Moltke

The main source for the examination of Eulenburg and the ‘Liebenberg Circle’ is Eulenburg’s correspondence, and although in the letters homosexuality is never directly mentioned, some evidence can be found that Eulenburg’s friendship to Kuno von Moltke, a member of the ‘Liebenberg Circle’, included more than an ordinary friendship, and that the whole “Männerbund” lived out in the ‘Liebenberg Circle’ had a homoerotic background.

Eulenburg also had sexual relationships to lower-class men, which was proved by Maximilian Harden during the Munich process in 1908.
Maximilian Harden

Wilhelm’s close friendship to Philipp Count zu Eulenburg, and thus the whole affiliation with the ‘Liebenberg Circle’ served Wilhelm’s psyche in different ways.

Eulenburg gave the Kaiser, seven years his junior, the friendly affection which Wilhelm had never received from his parents.
Eulenburg’s genuine affection also stood in contrast to the flattery of those who sought only their own advancement when they met Wilhelm.
Eulenburg had bad health and suffered constantly from a number of illnesses.
He also had hypochondrious tendencies.
Eulenburg’s weakness made the Kaiser feel more masculine, self-confident, and powerful. Eulenburg’s melodramatic suffering and self-pity helped Wilhelm to overcome anxiety about his own health by playing the role of the stronger, more courageous friend who offers encouragement and support.
Up to this point Wilhelm’s personality concerning his relationships to men can be explained without assuming he was homosexual.

Kaiser Wilhelm II

Nontheless, labelling Wilhelm as a repressed or latent homosexual, who was perhaps unaware of this fact, gives hints to the explanation of Wilhelm’s complex personality.

Yet Wilhelm’s psychological shortcomings cannot be simplified to a hidden sexual orientation.
Assuming Wilhelm was homosexual can only contribute partially to an explanation of his character.
The exposure of Eulenburg and other members of his group was not initially pursued because of the ‘homoerotic’ nature of the group, but rather because Eulenburg was seen as a detrimental influence on Wilhelm’s approach to the governance of the Reich.
Subsequently the accusations against the group involved a number of court cases, which did little to guide Wilhelm onto a more constitutional approach with regard to the political situation, and unfortunately damaged the reputation of certain groups in the officer corps and the aristocracy.

MARRIAGES

In February, 27 1881, Wilhelm II married the eldest daughter of Duke Friedrich VIII of Schleswig-Holstein, the Princess Auguste Viktoria Friederike Luise Feodora Jenny of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, who was known as Empress Augusta-Viktoria (born on October, 22 1858).

Kaiserin Augusta-Viktoria 

Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein (22 October 1858 – 11 April 1921) was the last German Empress and Queen of Prussia.
She was the eldest daughter of Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.
Her maternal grandparents were Ernst I, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Princess Feodora of Leiningen, half-sister of Queen Victoria.

On 27 February 1881, Augusta married Prince Wilhelm of Prussia in an eight-hour ceremony that required everyone to remain standing.
Chancellor Otto von Bismarck was a strong proponent of the marriage, believing that it would end the dispute between the Prussian government and Augusta’s father.
Wilhelm had earlier proposed to his first cousin, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine (known in the family as “Ella”), but she declined.
Wilhelm did not take that well – and was adamant to soon marry another princess.
Wilhelm’s family was originally against the marriage with Augusta Viktoria, whose father was not even a sovereign, but in the end, Wilhelm’s intransigence, the support of Bismarck, and a determination to move beyond the rejection of his proposal to Ella, led the reluctant imperial family to give official consent.

Kaiserlichen Monogramm
Kaiserin Augusta Victoria

Augusta was known as “Dona” within the family.
She enjoyed a somewhat lukewarm relationship with her mother-in-law, Victoria, who had hoped that Dona would help to heal the rift between herself and Wilhelm; sadly, this was not to be the case.
In 1920, the shock of exile and abdication proved too much for Augusta.
She died in 1921, in House Doorn at Doorn in the Netherlands.
The Weimar Republic allowed her remains to be transported back to Germany, where they still lie in the ‘Temple of Antiquities’, not far from the New Palace, Potsdam.

They had seven children together, and the Empress died on April, 11 1921, in the last years of the Weltkrieg (First World War), certainly depressed by the devastating war.

Kaiserin Hermine

Taking advantage of the Kaiser’s birthday in 1922, the recently widowed Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz (born on December, 17 1887), was invited with her son to the Imperial Palace. The old Kaiser found the widow very attractive, despite the fact she was 30 years younger than him and had already five children.
Despite the grumblings of his personal advisers and his children, the Kaiser married the woman on November, 9 1922, now known as Empress Hermine. They had no children.

Children
1. Kronprinz Wilhelm (born Friedrich Wilhelm Victor August Ernst on May, 6 1882), official heir to his father as German Kaiser and King of Prussia. Married Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, had six children.
2. Prince Eitel Friedrich (born Wilhelm Eitel Friedrich Christian Karl on July, 7 1883). Married Duchess Sophie Charlotte Holstein-Gottorp of Oldenburg, they had no children.
3. King Adalbert (born Adalbert Ferdinand Berengar Viktor on July, 14 1884), current king of Flanders-Wallonia. Married Adelheid Arna Karoline Marie Elisabeth of Saxe-Meiningen, had two living children. As king of another country, renounced to his rights to the Prussian throne.
4. Prince August Wilhelm (born August Wilhelm Heinrich Günther on January, 29 1887), controversial due to his links to the Pan-Germanist GDVP. Married Princess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, had a son.
5. Prince Oskar (born Oskar Karl Gustav Adolf on July, 27 1888), married morganically Countess Ina-Marie Helene Adele Elise von Bassewitz, thus renunciating to his succession rights, had four children.
6. Prince Joachim (born Joachim Franz Humbert on December, 17 1890), king of Ireland for three months before Irish dictator Michael Collins abolished the monarchy imposed by the Germans. Diseappeared from political life after his failed tentative of suicide in 1923, due to his failed marriage. Married Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt, had one son.
7. Princess Viktoria Luise (born Viktoria Luise Adelheid Mathilde Charlotte on September, 13 1892), duchess of Braunschweig. Married Ernst August III, Duke of Braunschweig, had five children.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

German foreign policy under Wilhelm II was faced with a number of significant problems. Perhaps the most apparent was that Wilhelm was an impatient man, subjective in his reactions and affected strongly by sentiment and impulse.

Paul Kruger

He was personally ill-equipped to steer German foreign policy along a rational course. It is now widely recognised that the various spectacular acts which Wilhelm undertook in the international sphere were often partially encouraged by the German foreign policy elite.

There were a number of key exceptions, such as the famous Kruger telegram of 1896 in which Wilhelm congratulated President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal Republic on the suppression of the Jameson Raid, thus alienating British public opinion.

Boxer Rebellion – China

Wilhelm invented and spread fears of a yellow peril trying to interest other European rulers in the perils they faced by invading Chinese; few other leaders paid attention.
After the murder of Clemens von Ketteler during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, German troops were sent to China.
Under Wilhelm Germany attempted to develop its colonies in Africa and the Pacific, but few became self-supporting, and all were lost during World War I. 

Sophie
Herzogin von Hohenberg

One of the few times Wilhelm succeeded in personal diplomacy was when he supported Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in marrying Sophie Chotek in 1900 against the wishes of Emperor Franz Joseph.

Herzogin von Hohenberg – Sophie Maria Josephine Albina Gräfin Chotek von Chotkow und Wognin – (Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg) – (1 March 1868 – 28 June 1914) was a Czech aristocrat from the Kingdom of Bohemia, the morganatic wife of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Their assassination sparked World War I.
She was granted the title of Duchess of Hohenberg with the style of Highness in 1909.



Prinzessin Victoria Louise

One domestic triumph for Wilhelm was when his daughter Victoria Louise married the Duke of Brunswick in 1913; this helped heal the rift between the House of Hanover and the House of Hohenzollern after the 1866 annexation of Hanover by Prussia.
One of Wilhelm II’s diplomatic blunders sparked the Moroccan Crisis of 1905, when Wilhelm made a spectacular visit to Tangier, in Morocco.
Wilhelm’s presence was seen as an assertion of German interests in Morocco, in opposition to France.
In his speech he even made certain remarks in favour of Moroccan independence.
This led to friction with France, which had expanding colonial interests in Morocco, and led to the Algeciras Conference, which served largely to further isolate Germany in Europe.
This Moroccan debacle can be seen as an aspect of Wilhelm’s strange involvement with the Ottoman Empire.

WILHELM and the OTTOMAN EMPIRE

محمد خامس
Mehmed V Reshad
Osmanli Armasi 

Wilhelm II of Germany enjoyed a personal romance with Islam, intensified by national strategic imperatives.
There is concrete evidence that Turco-German-jihad action plans were ready to go when the guns of August started firing.
The Kaiser’s Islamic enthusiasm was fired by an 1889 visit to Turkey, which Bismarck opposed on the grounds that it would gratuitously alarm the Russians.
Wilhelm met the murderous Sultan Abdul Hamid II and enjoyed the sinuous gyrations of the Circassian dancers in his Constantinople harem.
In 1898 Wilhelm returned to the Ottoman Empire and rode into Jerusalem through a breach specially made in its walls, allegedly to dedicate the new Church of the Redeemer, built by German Protestants.
This pilgrimage was deemed somewhat less benign than it sounded, since the Kaiser wore a field marshal’s uniform with holstered pistol.

The Kaiser and the Sultan

Referring to the Kaiser as Haji Wilhelm, the German Intelligence Bureau for the East spread propaganda throughout the region, fostering rumours that the Kaiser had converted to Islam following a secret trip to Mecca, and portraying him as a savior of Islam.
The Kaiser and some influential German diplomats, bankers, and soldiers were powerfully attracted by the notion of establishing a bridgehead in the Near East to exploit its natural resources.
The foremost manifestation of German influence would be a railway built from the Asian shore of Constantinople to Baghdad, crossing not only Turkey’s vast wildernesses but the Taurus Mountains and bandit regions of Syria and Mesopotamia.
Wilhelm’s ambassador to the Ottoman court, Baron Marschall von Bieberstein, wrote that the railway must be constructed “with only German materials and for the purpose of bringing goods and people to [Asia]…from the heart of Germany.

The railway would run from Berlin to the Persian Gulf, and would further connect to British India through Persia.
This railway could provide a short and quick route from Europe to Asia, and could carry German exports, troops and artillery.
At the time, the Ottoman Empire could not afford such a railway, and Abdülhamid II was grateful to Wilhelm’s offer, but was suspicious over the German motives.
Abdülhamid II’s secret service believed that German archaeologists in the Emperor’s retinue were in fact geologists with designs on the oil wealth of the Ottoman empire.
Later, the secret service uncovered a German report, which noted that the oilfields in Mosul, northern Mesopotamia were richer than that in the Caucuses.
In his first visit, Wilhelm secured the sale of German-made rifles to Ottoman Army, and in his second visit he secured a promise for German companies to construct the Istanbul-Baghdad railway.

Bağdat Demiryolu – Baghdad Railway

Bağdat Demiryolu (Bagdadbahn – The Baghdad Railway), was built from 1903 to 1940 to connect Berlin with the Ottoman Empire city of Baghdad, where the Germans wanted to establish a port in the Persian Gulf, with a 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) line through modern-day Turkey, Syria, and Iraq.
Funding and engineering was mainly provided by German Empire banks and companies, which in the 1890s had built the Anatolian Railway (Anatolische Eisenbahn) connecting Constantinople, Ankara and Konya. The Ottoman Empire wished to maintain its control of Arabia and to expand its influence across the Red Sea into the nominally Ottoman (until 1914) Khedivate of Egypt, which had been under British military control since the Urabi Revolt in 1882. The Germans gained access to and ownership of oil fields in Iraq, and with a line to the port of Basra would have gained better access to the eastern parts of the German colonial empire, by avoiding the Suez Canal.
The railway became a source of international disputes during the years immediately preceding World War I.
It has been argued that the railway was a leading cause of the First World War.
Technical difficulties in the remote Taurus Mountains and diplomatic delays meant that by 1915 the railway was still 480 kilometres (300 mi) short of completion, severely limiting its use during the war in which Baghdad was occupied by the British while the Hejaz railway in the south was attacked by guerrilla forces led by T. E. Lawrence. Construction resumed in the 1930s and was completed in 1940.
A history of this railway in the context of World War I history has lately emerged to describe the German interests in countering the British Empire, and Turkey’s interest in countering their Russian rivals.

The Central Powers

The involvement with the Ottoman Empire  led to the creation of the Central Powers (German: Mittelmächte; Turkish: İttifak Devletleri or Bağlaşma Devletleri) were one of the two warring factions in World War I (1914–18), composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria.
This alignment originated in the Triple Alliance, and fought against the Allied Powers that had formed around the Triple Entente.




A Prussian military mission had been entrusted with the modernization of the Ottoman army as early as 1835 and since that time the Germans were viewed by the Ottomans as friends.
Wilhelm II visited Istanbul twice during Abdülhamid’s reign in 1889 and in 1898, the first Western sovereign to do so. The Germans embarked in a policy of encouraging Pan-Islamism in the hope that Muslim rebellions would dislodge the British from the Middle East.
In his second visit Kaiser Wilhelm visited Jerusalem on October 29, 1898. He dedicated a German Protestant church but he also took care of the Catholics by sending a telegram to Pope Leo XIII offering his protection of Catholics in the Holy Land. The Kaiser next visited Damascus where he laid a wreath on the tomb of Sala’din and offered to build a marble mausoleum in his honor. He topped it all by declaring in a speech: “May the Sultan (i.e. Abdülhamid) and his 300 million subjects scattered across the earth, who venerate him as their Caliph, be assured that the German Kaiser will be their friend for all time”. There were several problems with this declaration: the Shia Muslims of Persia and what is now southern Iraq did not accept the Ottoman sultan as their caliph; and most important, many of the 300 million Muslims were subject of Britain or France. But of course, that was the point for the German Kaiser. He wanted to use Islam to cause trouble for the British and the French.

Bronsart von Schellendorf

As the war progressed Germany became increasingly involved in the management of the poorly trained and poorly equipped Ottoman forces, and Friedrich (Fritz) Bronsart von Schellendorf (1864–1950) was appointed as the chief of the Ottoman General Staff, part of German military mission in the Ottoman Empire.
The ruler of the Ottoman Empire during the period of the Central Powers was  محمد خامس  (Mehmed V Reshad).
He was born at Topkapı Palace, Constantinople.
Like many other potential heirs to the throne, he was confined for 30 years in the Harems of the palace.
For nine of those years he was in solitary confinement. During this time he studied poetry of the old Persian style and was an acclaimed poet.

His reign began on 27 April 1909 but he was largely a figurehead with no real political power, as the Ottoman state affairs were largely run by the ‘Three Pashas’ since the ‘Young Turk Revolution’ in 1908.

Members of the Committee of Union and Progress
CUP

The Young Turks( chikas) (Turkish: Jön Türkler (plural) or Turkish: Genç Türkler (plural), from French: Les Jeunes Turcs) was a secularist Turkish nationalist reform party in the early twentieth century, favoring reformation of the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Empire. Officially known as the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), their leaders led a rebellion against Sultan Abdul Hamid II. They contributed to establish the Second Constitutional Era in 1908 and The İttihat ve Terakki (Committee of Union and Progress) based on the ideas of the Young Turks ruled the Ottoman empire from 1908 until the end of World War I in November 1918.

Enver Pasha

Enver Pasha (Ottoman Turkish: انور پاشا‎, Turkish: Enver Paşa) or Ismail Enver Pasha (اسماعیل انور پاشا‎, İsmail Enver Paşa‎, born Ismail Enver) (November 22, 1881 – August 4, 1922) was an Ottoman military officer and a leader of the Young Turk revolution. He was the main leader of the Ottoman Empire in both Balkan Wars and World War I. 

As a war minister and de facto Commander-in-Chief (de jure he was Deputy Commander-in-Chief, since formally the Sultan held the title), Enver Pasha was considered to be the most powerful figure of the government of Ottoman Turkey.

Talaat Pasha

Talaat Pasha (Ottoman Turkish: طلعت پاشا, born Mehmed Talaat (Ottoman Turkish: محمد طلعت, Turkish: Mehmed Talât or Mehmet Talat) (1874–1921) was one of the leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress that controlled the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

Djemal Pasha

In 1917, Talaat became the Grand Vizier, but was unable to reverse the downward spiral of Ottoman fortunes in his new position.
Over the next year, Jerusalem and Baghdad were lost, and in October 1918 the British shattered both Ottoman armies they faced. With defeat certain, Talaat resigned on October 14, 1918.

Djemal Pasha (Ottoman Turkish: جمال پاشا, modern Turkish: Cemal Paşa), born Ahmed Djemal (Ottoman Turkish: احمد جمال, Turkish: Ahmet Cemal; 6 May 1872 – 21 July 1922), was a Young Turk and member of the Three Pashas. Djemal was also Mayor of Istanbul.


Mehmed V’s only significant political act was, as Caliph, to formally declare ‘jihad‘ against the Entente Powers (Allies of World War I) on 11 November 1914, following the Ottoman government’s decision to join the First World War on the side of the Central Powers.
This was the last genuine proclamation of jihad in history by a Caliph, as the Caliphate ended in 1924.

Enver Pasha had the Sultan proclaimed jihad in the hope that it would provoke and aid a vast Muslim revolution, particularly in India.
Translations of the proclamation were sent to Berlin for propaganda purposes, for distribution to Muslim troops of the Entente Powers, however, while widely heard, the proclamation did not have the intended effect of mobilising global Muslim opinion on behalf of Turkey or the Central Powers.

The proclamation had no noticeable effect on the war, despite the fact that many Muslims lived in Ottoman territories.
The Arabs eventually joined the British forces against the Ottomans with the Arab Revolt in 1916.
Mehmed V hosted Kaiser Wilhelm II, his World War I ally, in Constantinople on 15 October 1917.
He was made Generalfeldmarschall of the Kingdom of Prussia on 27 January 1916, and of the Empire of Germany on 1 February 1916.
The Ottoman Sultan specifically wanted the Empire to remain a non-belligerent nation, however, pressure from some of Mehmed’s senior advisors led the Empire to align with the Central Powers.
Whilst Great Britain was unenthusiastic about aligning with the Ottoman Empire Germany was enthusiastic.
Germany needed the Ottoman Empire on its side.
The Orient Express had run directly to Constantinople since 1889, and prior to the First World War the Sultan had consented to a plan to extend it through Anatolia to Baghdad under German auspices.
This would strengthen the Ottoman Empire’s link with industrialised Europe, while also giving Germany easier access to its African colonies and to trade markets in India.
To keep the Ottoman Empire from joining the Triple Entente, Germany encouraged Romania and Bulgaria to enter the Central Powers.
Led by Enver Pasha, a coup in Turkey in 1913 sidelined Sultan Mehmed V, and concentrated power in the hands of a junta.
Despite the secular nature of the new government, Turkey retained its traditional influence over the Muslim world.
Turkey ruled Hejaz until the Arab Revolt of 1916 and controlled the Muslim holy city of Mecca throughout the war.

Osmanli Devleti Nisani Yeni

The Sultan’s title of Caliph was recognised as legitimate by most Muslims, including those in Afghanistan and India.
A secret treaty was then concluded between the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire on August 2, 1914.
The Ottoman Empire was to enter the war on the side of the Central Powers one day after the German Empire declared war on Russia.
The alliance was ratified on 2nd August by many high ranking Ottoman officials, including Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha, the Minister of War Enver Pasha, the Interior Minister Talat Pasha, and Head of Parliament Halil Bey.
However, there was no signature from the House of Osman as the Sultan Mehmed V did not sign it.
The Sultan was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, as written in the constitution, this made the legitimacy of the Alliance questionable.
This meant that the army was not be able to fight a jihad on behalf of the Sultan.
He did not wish to command a war himself, and as such left the Cabinet to do much of his bidding.
The third member of the cabinet of the ‘Three Pashas’, Djemal Pasha also did not sign the treaty as he had tried to form an alliance with France.
The Alliance was not universally accepted by all parts of the Ottoman government.
The Ottoman Empire did not enter the war until German elements in the Ottoman Navy took matters into their own hands and bombarded Russian ports on the 29th of October 1914.
Once at war, Turkey joined Germany in taking aim at the opposing Entente Powers and their extensive empires in the Muslim world.

NAVAL EXPANSION

Nothing Wilhelm II did in the international arena was of more influence than his decision to pursue a policy of massive naval construction.
A powerful navy was Wilhelm’s pet project.

Spithead Diamond Jubilee Review 26 June 1897
King-Emperor Edward VII

He had inherited from his English mother a love of the British Royal Navy, which was at that time the world’s largest.

He once confided to his uncle, Edward VII, that his dream was to have a “fleet of my own some day“.
Wilhelm’s frustration over his fleet’s poor showing at the Fleet Review at his grandmother Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, combined with his inability to exert German influence in South Africa following the dispatch of the Kruger telegram, led to Wilhelm taking definitive steps toward the construction of a fleet to rival that of his British cousins.

Großadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz
Wilhelm was fortunate to be able to call on the services of the dynamic naval officer Alfred von Tirpitz, whom he appointed to the head of the Imperial Naval Office in 1897.

Großadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz (March 19, 1849 – March 6, 1930) was a German Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871. Tirpitz took the modest Imperial Navy and, starting in the 1890s, turned it into a world-class force that could threaten the British Royal Navy. His navy, however, was not strong enough to confront the British successfully in World War I; the one great naval Battle of Jutland was a draw. Tirpitz turned to submarine warfare, which antagonized the United States. He was dismissed in 1916 and never regained power.

The new admiral had conceived of what came to be known as the “Risk Theory” or the ‘Tirpitz Plan’, by which Germany could force Britain to accede to German demands in the international arena through the threat posed by a powerful battle-fleet concentrated in the North Sea.
Tirpitz enjoyed Wilhelm’s full support in his advocacy of successive Naval Bills of 1897 and 1900, by which the German navy was built up to contend with that of the United Kingdom.

Naval expansion under the ‘Fleet Acts’ eventually led to severe financial strains in Germany by 1914, as by 1906 Wilhelm had committed his navy to construction of the much larger, more expensive dreadnought type of battleship.
In 1889 Wilhelm II re-organised top level control of the navy by creating a ‘Marine-Kabinett’ (Navy Cabinet) – (equivalent to the German Imperial Military Cabinet which had previously functioned in the same capacity for both the army and navy).
The Head of the ‘Marine-Kabinett’ was responsible for promotions, appointments, administration and issuing orders to naval forces.
Captain Gustav von Senden-Bibran was appointed as its first head and remained so until 1906.

The existing kaiserlichen Admiralität (Imperial Admiralty) was abolished and its responsibilities divided between two organisations.
A new position (equivalent to the supreme commander of the army) was created, Chef des Oberkommandos der Marine, being responsible for ship deployments, strategy and tactics. Vice Admiral Max von der Goltz was appointed in 1889 and remained in post until 1895. Construction and maintenance of ships and obtaining supplies was the responsibility of the State Secretary of the Imperial Navy Office (Reichsmarineamt), responsible to the Chancellor and advising the Reichstag on naval matters.
The first appointee was Rear Admiral Eduard Heusner, followed shortly by Rear Admiral Friedrich von Hollmann from 1890 to 1897.
Each of these three heads of department reported separately to Wilhelm II.

In addition to the expansion of the fleet the ‘Kiel Canal’ was opened in 1895 enabling faster movements between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

The SARAJEVO CRISIS

The causes of World War I, which began in central Europe in late July 1914, included intertwined factors, such as the conflicts and hostility of the four decades leading up to the war. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism played major roles in the conflict as well.

The immediate origins of the war, however, lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the Crisis of 1914, ‘casus belli‘ for which was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by Gavrilo Princip, an irredentist Serb.
The crisis came after a long and difficult series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, the British Empire, the Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decade before 1914 that had left tensions high.
In turn these diplomatic clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1867.
The more immediate cause for the war was tensions over territory in the Balkans.
Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region, and they pulled the rest of the Great Powers into the conflict through their various alliances and treaties.

Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand
Sarajevo

Wilhelm was a friend of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, and he was deeply shocked by his assassination on 28 June 1914.
Wilhelm offered to support Austria-Hungary in crushing the ‘Black Hand’, the secret organization that had plotted the killing, and even sanctioned the use of force by Austria against the perceived source of the movement – Serbia.
He wanted to remain in Berlin until the crisis was resolved, but his courtiers persuaded him instead to go on his annual cruise of the North Sea on 6 July 1914.
Wilhelm made erratic attempts to stay on top of the crisis via telegram, and when the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum was delivered to Serbia, he hurried back to Berlin.
He reached Berlin on 28 July, read a copy of the Serbian reply, and wrote on it:
‘A brilliant solution—and in barely 48 hours! This is more than could have been expected.
A great moral victory for Vienna; but with it every pretext for war falls to the ground, and [the Ambassador] Giesl had better have stayed quietly at Belgrade.
On this document, I should never have given orders for mobilisation.’

Kaiser Franz Josef

Unknown to the Emperor, Austro-Hungarian ministers and generals had already convinced the 84-year-old Francis Joseph I of Austria to sign a declaration of war against Serbia.
As a direct consequence, Russia began a general mobilization to attack Austria in defense of Serbia.

On the night of 30 July, when handed a document stating that Russia would not cancel its mobilization, Wilhelm wrote a lengthy commentary containing these observations:
‘For I no longer have any doubt that England, Russia and France have agreed among themselves—knowing that our treaty obligations compel us to support Austria—to use the Austro-Serb conflict as a pretext for waging a war of annihilation against us… Our dilemma over keeping faith with the old and honourable Emperor has been exploited to create a situation which gives England the excuse she has been seeking to annihilate us with a spurious appearance of justice on the pretext that she is helping France and maintaining the well-known Balance of Power in Europe, i.e., playing off all European States for her own benefit against us.’
When it became clear that Germany would experience a war on two fronts and that the United Kingdom would enter the war if Germany attacked France through neutral Belgium Wilhelm attempted to redirect the main attack against Russia.
When Helmuth von Moltke (the younger) (who had chosen the old plan from 1905, made by the former German general von Schlieffen for the possibility of German war on two fronts) told him that this was impossible, Wilhelm said: “Your uncle would have given me a different answer!
Wilhelm is also reported to have said, “To think that George and Nicky should have played me false! If my grandmother had been alive, she would never have allowed it.
In the original Schlieffen plan, Germany would attack the (supposed) weaker enemy first, meaning France.
The plan supposed that it would take a long time before Russia was ready for war.
Defeating France had been easy for Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
At the 1914 border between France and Germany, an attack at this more southern part of France could be stopped by the French fortress along the border, however, Wilhelm II got von Moltke (the younger) to not also invade the Netherlands.

The WAR

Paul von Hindenburg – General Ludendorff
and Kaiser Wilhelm II

Wilhelm’s role in wartime was of ever-decreasing power as he increasingly handled awards ceremonies and honorific duties.

The high command foolishly continued with its strategy even when it was clear that the Schlieffen plan had failed.
By 1916 the Empire had effectively become a military dictatorship under the control of Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff.
Paul von Hindenburg

Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, known universally as Paul von Hindenburg –  (2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934) was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934.
Hindenburg enjoyed a long career in the Prussian Army, retiring in 1911. He was recalled at the outbreak of World War I, and first came to national attention, at the age of 66, as the victor at Tannenberg in 1914. As Germany’s Chief of the General Staff from 1916, he and his deputy, Erich Ludendorff, rose in the German public’s esteem until Hindenburg came to eclipse the Kaiser himself.
Hindenburg retired again in 1919, but returned to public life one more time in 1925 to be elected as the second President of Germany.



Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (sometimes referred to as von Ludendorff) (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg. From August 1916 his appointment as Quartermaster general made him joint head (with Paul von Hindenburg), and chief engineer behind the management of Germany’s effort in World War I until his resignation in October 1918.
After the war, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist leader who was convinced that the German Army had been betrayed by Marxists and Republicans in the Versailles Treaty. He took part in the unsuccessful coups d’état of Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 and the Beer Hall Putsch of Adolf Hitler in 1923, and in 1925 he ran for president against his former colleague, Paul von Hindenburg,


Increasingly cut off from reality and the political decision-making process, Wilhelm vacillated between defeatism and dreams of victory, depending upon the fortunes of his armies. Nevertheless, Wilhelm still retained the ultimate authority in matters of political appointment, and it was only after his consent had been gained that major changes to the high command could be effected.

Helmuth von Moltke
Prinz Ruprecht and Wilhelm II
Wilhelm was in favour of the dismissal of Helmuth von Moltke the Younger in September 1914 and his replacement by Erich von Falkenhayn.

Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke (23 May 1848, Biendorf – 18 June 1916), also known as Moltke the Younger, was a nephew of Field Marshal Count Moltke and served as the Chief of the German General Staff from 1906 to 1914. The two are often differentiated as Moltke the Elder and Moltke the Younger. Moltke the Younger’s role in the development of German war plans and the instigation of the First World War is extremely controversial.



Erich von Falkenhayn

Erich von Falkenhayn (11 September 1861 – 8 April 1922) was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. He became a military writer after World War I.

Falkenhayn succeeded Moltke as Chief of the General Staff of the German Army after the Battle of the Marne on 14 September 1914. Confronted with the failure of the Schlieffen Plan due to Moltke’s interference, he attempted to outflank the British and French in the “Race to the Sea”, a series of engagements throughout northern France and Belgium in which each side tried to turn the other’s flank until they reached the coastline. The British and French eventually stopped the Germans at the First Battle of Ypres (October–November 1914).
Falkenhayn preferred an offensive strategy on the Western Front while conducting a limited campaign in the east: he hoped that Russia would accept a separate armistice more easily if it had not been humiliated too much. This brought him into conflict with Hindenburg and Ludendorff, who favored massive offensives in the east. Eventually – either in the hope that a massive slaughter would lead Europe’s political leaders to consider ending the war, or that losses would in the end be less harmful for Germany than for France – Falkenhayn staged a massive battle of attrition, as claimed in his post-war memoires, at Verdun in early 1916. Although more than a quarter of a million soldiers eventually died – for which Falkenhayn was sometimes called “the Blood-Miller of Verdun” – neither side’s resolve was lessened, because, contrary to Falkenhayn’s assumptions, the Entente was able to replace their dead. 
After the failure at Verdun, coupled with several reverses in the east and incessant lobbying by Hindenburg and Ludendorff, Falkenhayn was replaced as Chief of Staff by Hindenburg.

Georg Michaelis
In 1917, Hindenburg and Ludendorff decided that Bethman-Hollweg was no longer acceptable to them as Chancellor and called upon the Kaiser to appoint somebody else.
When asked whom they would accept, Ludendorff recommended Georg Michaelis, a nonentity he barely knew.
The Kaiser did not know Michaelis, but accepted the suggestion.
The Kaiser’s support collapsed completely in October–November 1918 in the army, in the civilian government, and in German public opinion, as President Woodrow Wilson made clear the Kaiser could no longer be a party to peace negotiations.
That year Wilhelm also became seriously ill during the worldwide 1918 flu pandemic, though he survived.



click below for more information about


ABDICATION

Wilhelm was at the Imperial Army headquarters in Spa, Belgium, when the uprisings in Berlin and other centres took him by surprise in late 1918.

The Kiel Mutiny – 1918

Mutiny among the ranks of his beloved Kaiserliche Marine, the imperial navy, profoundly shocked him.

The Kiel mutiny was a major revolt by sailors of the German High Seas Fleet on 3 November 1918. The revolt triggered the German revolution which was to sweep aside the monarchy within a few days. It ultimately led to the end of the German Empire and to the establishment of the Weimar Republic.
On 7 November, the revolution had spread as far south as München, causing Ludwig III of Bavaria to flee.

After the outbreak of the German Revolution, Wilhelm could not make up his mind whether or not to abdicate.
Up to that point, he was confident that even if he were obliged to vacate the German throne, he would still retain the Prussian kingship.

Maximillian Prinz von Baden

The unreality of this belief was revealed when, in the hope of preserving the monarchy in the face of growing revolutionary unrest, Wilhelm’s abdication both as German Emperor and King of Prussia was abruptly announced by the Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, on 9 November 1918.
Prince Max himself was forced to resign later the same day, when it became clear that only Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD could effectively exert control.
Wilhelm consented to the abdication only after Ludendorff’s replacement, General Wilhelm Groener, had informed him that the officers and men of the army would march back in good order under Paul von Hindenburg’s command, but would certainly not fight for Wilhelm’s throne on the home front.
The monarchy’s last and strongest support had been broken, and finally even Hindenburg, himself a lifelong royalist, was obliged, with some embarrassment, to advise the Emperor to give up the crown, thus ending the Hohenzollern dynasty’s five-century rule.
The fact that the High Command might one day abandon the Kaiser had been foreseen in December 1897, when Wilhelm had visited Otto von Bismarck for the last time.
Bismarck had again warned the Kaiser about the increasing influence of militarists, especially of the admirals who were pushing for the construction of a battle fleet.
Bismarck’s last warning had been:
‘Your Majesty, so long as you have this present officer corps, you can do as you please. But when this is no longer the case, it will be very different for you.’
Subsequently, Bismarck had predicted accurately:
Jena came twenty years after the death of Frederick the Great; the crash will come twenty years after my departure if things go on like this” – a prophecy fulfilled almost to the month.
On November 10, Wilhelm Hohenzollern crossed the border by train, as a private citizen, and went into exile in the Netherlands, which had remained neutral throughout the war.
Upon the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles in early 1919, Article 227 expressly provided for the prosecution of Wilhelm “for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties“, but Queen Wilhelmina refused to extradite him, despite appeals from the Allies.
King-Emperor George V wrote that he looked on his cousin as “the greatest criminal in history (?)“, but opposed Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s proposal to “hang the Kaiser“.
President Wilson rejected extradition, arguing that punishing Wilhelm for waging war would destabilize international order and lose the peace.

Wilhelm after his Abdication

The erstwhile Emperor first settled in Amerongen, where on 28 November he issued a formal statement of abdication.

He subsequently purchased a country house in the municipality of Doorn on 16 August 1919 and moved in on 15 May 1920.
This was to be his home for the remainder of his life.
From this residence, ‘Huis Doorn’, Wilhelm absolved his officers and servants of their oath of loyalty to him; however, he himself never formally relinquished his titles, and hoped to return to Germany in the future.
The Weimar Republic allowed Wilhelm to remove twenty-three railway wagons of furniture, twenty-seven containing packages of all sorts, one bearing a car and another a boat, from the New Palace at Potsdam.

WILHELM in EXILE

Huis Doorn

On 2 December 1919, Wilhelm wrote to Field Marshal August von Mackensen, denouncing his abdication as the “deepest, most disgusting shame ever perpetrated by a person in history, the Germans have done to themselves“, “egged on and misled by the tribe of Judah … Let no German ever forget this, nor rest until these parasites have been destroyed and exterminated from German soil!

He advocated a “regular international all-worlds pogrom à la Russe” as “the best cure” and further believed that Jews were a “nuisance that humanity must get rid of some way or other.”

Residence of Empress Elisabeth – Corfu

In 1922, Wilhelm published the first volume of his memoirs – a very slim volume that insisted he was not guilty of initiating the Great War, and defended his conduct throughout his reign, especially in matters of foreign policy.

For the remaining twenty years of his life, he entertained guests (often of some standing) and kept himself updated on events in Europe.
He grew a beard and allowed his famous moustache to droop.
He also learned the Dutch language. Wilhelm developed a penchant for archaeology during his vacations on Corfu, a passion he retained in his exile.
He had bought the former Greek residence of Empress Elisabeth after her murder in 1898.
He also sketched plans for grand buildings and battleships when he was bored.
In exile, one of Wilhelm’s greatest passions was hunting, and he bagged thousands of animals, both beast and bird.

Kaiser and Kaiserin
Wilhelm’s Library – Huis Doorn

Much of his time was spent chopping wood, and thousands of trees were chopped down during his stay at Doorn.

In the early 1930s, Wilhelm apparently hoped that the successes of the NSDAP would stimulate interest in a restoration of the monarchy, with his eldest grandson as the fourth Kaiser.
His second wife, Hermine, actively petitioned the government of the Third Reich on her husband’s behalf, but the petitions were ignored.
Though he hosted Hermann Göring at Doorn on at least one occasion, Wilhelm grew to mistrust Hitler.

General von Dommes

In the wake of the German victory over Poland in September 1939, Wilhelm’s adjutant, General von Dommes, wrote on his behalf to Hitler, stating that the House of Hohenzollern “remained loyal” and noted that nine Prussian Princes (one son and eight grandchildren) were stationed at the front, concluding “because of the special circumstances that require residence in a neutral foreign country, His Majesty must personally decline to make the aforementioned comment. The Emperor has therefore charged me with making a communication.”

Wilhelm greatly admired the success which Hitler was able to achieve in the opening months of the Second World War, and personally sent a congratulatory telegram on the fall of Paris stating “Congratulations, you have won using my troops.

‘Uncle Edward VII’ 

In a letter to his daughter Victoria Louise, the Duchess of Brunswick, he wrote triumphantly, “Thus is the pernicious Entente Cordiale of Uncle Edward VII brought to nought.”

Nevertheless, after the conquest of the Netherlands in 1940, the aging Wilhelm retired completely from public life.
In May 1940, when Hitler invaded the Netherlands, Wilhelm declined an offer from Churchill for asylum (?) in the UK, preferring to die at Huis Doorn.
During his last year at Doorn, Wilhelm believed that Germany was the land of monarchy and therefore of Christ, and that England was the land of Liberalism and therefore of Satan and the Anti-Christ.
He argued that the English ruling classes were “Freemasons thoroughly infected by Juda“. Wilhelm asserted that the “British people must be liberated from Antichrist Juda. We must drive Juda out of England just as he has been chased out of the Continent.”

He believed the Freemasons and Jews had caused the two world wars, aiming at a world Jewish empire with British and American gold, but that “Juda’s plan has been smashed to pieces and they themselves swept out of the European Continent!

Continental Europe was now, Wilhelm wrote, “consolidating and closing itself off from British influences after the elimination of the British and the Jews!
The end result would be a “U.S. of Europe!
In a letter to his sister Princess Margaret in 1940, Wilhelm wrote: “The hand of God is creating a new world & working miracles… We are becoming the U.S. of Europe under German leadership, a united European Continent.
He added: “The Jews are being thrust out of their nefarious positions in all countries, whom they have driven to hostility for centuries.”
Also in 1940 came what would have been his mother’s 100th birthday, of which he ironically wrote to a friend “Today the 100th birthday of my mother! No notice is taken of it at home! No ‘Memorial Service’ or… committee to remember her marvellous work for the… welfare of our German people… Nobody of the new generation knows anything about her.
This sympathy for his mother is in sharp contrast to the intense animosity he expressed for her during most of her life.

DEATH of WILHELM II

Wilhelm II died of a pulmonary embolus in Doorn, Netherlands on 3 June 1941 aged 82, just weeks before the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

German soldiers had been guarding his estate.

Grabmal von Kaiser Wilhelm II – Doorn
Funeral of Kaiser Wilhelm II – Doorn

Despite his personal animosity toward Wilhelm, Hitler wanted to bring Wilhelm’s body back to Berlin for a state funeral, as Wilhelm was a symbol of Germany and Germans during World War I.

Begräbnis von Kaiser Wilhelm II – Doorn


Hitler felt this would demonstrate to Germans the direct succession of the Third Reich from the old Kaiserreich, however, Wilhelm’s wishes of never returning to Germany until the restoration of the monarchy were respected, and the German occupation authorities granted a small military funeral with a few hundred people present, the mourners including August von Mackensen, along with a few other military advisers.
He was buried in a small mausoleum in the grounds of ‘Huis Doorn’, which has since become a place of pilgrimage for German monarchists.

Three trends have characterized the writing about Wilhelm.
First, the writers who considered him a martyr and a hero.
Second, those who judged Wilhelm as completely unable to handle the great responsibilities of his office.
Third, after 1950, scholars sought to transcend the passions of the 1910s and attempted objective portrayal of Wilhelm II and his rule.
On 8 June 1913, a year before the Great War began, ‘The New York Times’ published a special supplement devoted to the 25th anniversary of the Kaiser’s coronation. The banner headline read: “Kaiser, 25 Years a Ruler, Hailed as Chief Peacemaker“.
The accompanying story called him “the greatest factor for peace that our time can show” – and credited Wilhelm with frequently rescuing Europe from the brink of war.
Until the late 1950s the Kaiser was depicted by most historians as man of considerable influence.
Partly that was a deception by German officials.
For example, President Theodore Roosevelt believed the Kaiser was in control of German foreign policy because Hermann Speck von Sternburg, the German ambassador in Washington and personal friend of Roosevelt, presented messages of Chancellor von Bülow to the president as messages from the Kaiser.
Then historians downplayed his role, arguing senior officials learned to work around him.
More recently historian John C. G. Röhl has portrayed Wilhelm II as the key figure in understanding the downfall of Imperial Germany.
Thus the argument is made that the Kaiser played a major role in promoting the policies of naval and colonial expansion that caused the sharp deterioration in Germany’s relations with Britain before 1914.

FULL TITLES

Seine Kaiserliche und Königliche Majestät Wilhelm der Zweite, von Gottes Gnaden Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen, Markgraf von Brandenburg, Burggraf von Nürnberg, der Hohenzollern, Herzog von Schlesien und der Grafschaft Glatz Graf, Großherzog vom Niederrhein und Posen, Herzog in Sachsen, der Angria, Westfalen, Pommern und Lunenburg, Herzog von Schleswig, Holstein und Crossen, Herzog von Magdeburg, Bremen, der Geldern und Jülich, Cleve und Berg, Herzog von der Wenden und Kaschuben, von Lauenburg und Mecklenburg, Landgraf von Hessen und Thüringen, Markgraf von Ober-und Niederlausitz, Prinz von Oranien, auf Rügen, Ost-Friesland, Paderborn und Pyrmont, Prinz von Halberstadt, Münster, der Minden, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, Verden, der Kammin, Fulda, Nassau und Moers, Fürstlicher Grafen von Henneberg, der Mark Graf von Ravensberg, Hohenstein, Tecklenburg und Lingen, Graf von Mansfeld, der Sigmaringen und Veringen, Herr von Frankfurt. 


to be continued….